Establishing vegetation in restored and created coastal wetlands
Restoring a coastal wetland ecosystem might include excavating fill from a degraded wetland, reintroducing species that were once present, breaching dikes, opening tide gates to resume tidal inundation, or some combination of these approaches. Once wetland hydrology and substrate are restored, the next step is to establish the appropriate vegetation. The plant community directly or indirectly performs many of the biologically and economically desirable functions of wetland ecosystems (Mitsch and Gosselink 1992, Gopal and Mitsch 1995). Wetland plants also serve as the matrix in which the microbial and animal community is embedded. Consequently, a self-sustaining plant community is a primary goal, and vegetation establishment is the most common performance standard. In this chapter, we discuss issues and recommendations in
• developing a planting strategy, including the design approach, choice of species, and source of plant material;
• acquiring and propagating plants, salvaging sods and wetland soils; • introducing plants to the site, including planting times, preparations for the salt
marsh environment, and techniques for outplanting; and • maintaining the genetic diversity of local populations.