Sustainable Habitat Restoration: Fish, Farms, and Ecosystem Services

Albany Law School Research Paper No. 22 of 2011-2012

23 Fordham Environmental Law Review 1 (2012)

54 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2011 Last revised: 13 Oct 2012

Keith H. Hirokawa

Albany Law School

Charles Gottlieb

Albany Law School

Date Written: August 22, 2011

Abstract

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.

Keywords: ecosystem, fish, farm, habitat, environment, land

Suggested Citation

Hirokawa, Keith H. and Gottlieb, Charles, Sustainable Habitat Restoration: Fish, Farms, and Ecosystem Services (August 22, 2011). 23 Fordham Environmental Law Review 1 (2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1907721 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1907721

Keith H. Hirokawa (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

Charles Gottlieb

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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