Sustainable Habitat Restoration: Fish, Farms, and Ecosystem Services
Keith H. Hirokawa
Albany Law School
Albany Law School
August 22, 2011
Albany Law School Research Paper No. 22 of 2011-2012
23 Fordham Environmental Law Review 1 (2012)
The conversion of estuarine marshes and floodplains to agricultural uses through diking, draining, and filling has left little adequate salmon habitat and, as a result, has been a critical factor in the decline of salmon populations. Current efforts to restore salmon by reestablishing ecosystem functionality. In particular, it has become more common to include dam and dike breaches as feasible solutions. Of course, there is a cost involved in habitat restoration, even if it is not an obvious environmental cost.
This article examines the dialogue on salmon valuation by contrasting the historical view of salmon-as-commodity with insights from "ecosystem services." This emerging trend in ecological economics will play a critical role in justifying restoration projects and formulating sustainability strategies; ecosystem services valuation is showing that investments in natural capital can provide substantial returns. This article also provides a case study of the Smith Island Habitat Restoration Project in Snohomish County, Washington. Smith Island, which was converted to farmland a century ago, exhibits enormous potential value for habitat restoration and begs for an inclusive process that considers the voices for economic, human, and ecosystem well-being. The resolution of the Smith Island controversy provides an insightful example of how a sustainability framework can be useful in showing that restoration strategies can offer substantial benefits to other lands uses and interests.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 54
Keywords: ecosystem, fish, farm, habitat, environment, land
Date posted: August 22, 2011 ; Last revised: October 13, 2012