Wetlands serve vital functions in protecting our environment and water quality. They take in flood waters, acting like a sponge to absorb excess flow. Wetlands also provide habitat and serve as a food source for a variety of aquatic and non-aquatic species. They also filter pollution out of stormwater as it runs off the land and into our streams. Recent research has revealed the importance of wetlands in combating global climate change since they play a role in carbon sequestration.
Despite this, nearly three-fifths of Tennessee's original wetlands have been lost.
Developers in Tennessee often apply to the State's Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) for permits to destroy a wetland in exchange for an agreement to create one somewhere else in the state. This is ineffective for two major reasons: 1) wetlands support amazing biodiversity, and recreating the form and function of an original wetland is next to impossible, and 2) the 404 permits (as explained above) are often granted, but frequently unenforced.
One way you can protect your land from future development is with a permanent conservation easement. Contact the TN Parks & Greenways Foundation for assistance.
We all need to work to protect our wetlands by preventing their destruction, restoring original wetlands and ensuring that permits are enforced to ensure proper and sufficient mitigation.