Improving Coastal Resilience

Wetlands Management Framework for New York City

New York City is a city of water — boasting an astounding 520 miles of shoreline and retaining over 100 miles of historic streams. Wetlands provide many benefits, including protection against storms and flooding, cleaner waters, lower summer temperatures, and carbon storage. Wetlands are also great places to spend time in nature, which can reduce stress and improve fitness and mental health.

Recognizing their ever-increasing importance, in spring 2021 the Natural Areas Conservancy and NYC Parks released the Wetlands Management Framework for New York City. This framework presents a bold new vision for the restoration and long-term care of New York City’s wetlands. The NAC hopes to mobilize the city around this new framework and seeks support to build investments, staff, and volunteers to save these natural areas.

Based on extensive field research, and building on decades of work by NYC Parks, this new 30-year plan presents the first-ever vision for the continued protection, restoration and care of the city’s last remaining wetlands. Out of New York City's 5,650 acres of marsh, the framework calls for continued protection of 50%, or approximately 2,820 acres of fragile wetlands and dozens of streams that are under the jurisdiction of NYC Parks.

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By the 2050s, predicted sea-level rise will drown many of New York City’s remaining wetlands — unless action is taken now. The Wetlands Management Framework for New York City identifies dozens of wetlands under greatest threat, and proposes dozens of new projects to protect them. It sets out a vision for a city that’s more resilient against climate change, and where New Yorkers can escape to wild, biodiverse greenspaces without ever leaving the five boroughs.

Wetlands Management Framework Goals:

  • Create new wetlands and allow space for wetlands to migrate as sea levels rise
  • Transfer approximately 93 acres of publicly-owned property to NYC Parks' jurisdiction, and acquire another 50 acres currently under private ownership, to be managed as wetlands and buffers
  • Dedicate funds for capital restoration of 288 acres of salt and freshwater marshes
  • Increase dedicated wetlands staffing, ensuring personnel to actively manage wetlands and engage volunteers
  • Remove invasive plant species that choke waterways and reestablish native vegetation
  • Remove debris within salt marshes, freshwater wetlands, streambanks and floodplains
  • Expand community engagement programs to improve access and promote stewardship

The Wetlands Management Framework was funded with a grant to NYC Parks by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2, and a grant to the Natural Areas Conservancy from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.