STAKEHOLDER PERCEPTIONS OF WETLAND RESTORATION ON TIMBER LANDS WITHIN THE WACCAMAW RIVER WATERSHED
Shapiro, Elizabeth Ph.D.
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The Waccamaw River in coastal North and South Carolina is known for its tannic waters, hardwood swamps, and endemic plant and animal species. Yet, despite this beauty and ecology, water quality and habitat impairments exist. After decades of silviculture, or timber production, the Waccamaw River’s wetlands have been diminished through ditching and draining techniques. Within the past 25 years, greater emphasis has been placed on restoring wetlands and ecosystem services nationally and within the watershed. My master’s project evaluates stakeholder perceptions of wetland restoration within the Waccamaw River watershed, particularly on silviculture lands. As watershed-based organizations begin to collaborate with stakeholders on restoration projects, there is an increasing recognition of the benefit of understanding stakeholder perceptions. Scoping within the Waccamaw River watershed revealed limited understanding of the restoration initiatives by the primary stakeholders. Data were collected through semi-structured, key informant interviews with the primary stakeholders from public, private, and non-governmental organizations and the timber industry involved in wetland initiatives in the Waccamaw River watershed. The interviews identified current and past wetland initiatives and evaluated stakeholder perception of the need for wetland restoration within the watershed, stakeholder motivations and relationships that support wetland restoration, and constraints that prevent participation in restoration projects. Results indicate that restoration efforts are underway in the Waccamaw River watershed, but that stakeholder perceptions and programs prioritize conservation within the watershed as compared to restoration. I attribute this emphasis to several factors, including wetland restoration’s potential conflict with adjacent land uses, cost and personnel requirements, and concerns over restoration’s effectiveness. Participation in wetland restoration is also constrained by perceptions that the Waccamaw River is healthy, despite numerous restoration opportunities identified by stakeholders. I conclude that wetland restoration can be promoted within the watershed by improving awareness of river impairments and restoration practices, utilizing existing stakeholder partnerships, and evaluating the use of stormwater fees.
CitationGoodman, Elizabeth (2013). STAKEHOLDER PERCEPTIONS OF WETLAND RESTORATION ON TIMBER LANDS WITHIN THE WACCAMAW RIVER WATERSHED. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/6806.
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