The concept plans for the Brisbane Baylands habitat enhancement are slowly coming together! Biohabitats, the world-renowned ecological restoration experts working on the Brisbane Baylands project, recently presented their schematic designs to the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) for the northern edge of the Brisbane lagoon. Below is a schematic of a complete tidal wetland system, which Biohabitats is using as a guide in the ‘habitat creation’ efforts of the Brisbane Baylands. According to the San Francisco’s Estuary Project’s recent report ‘The Baylands and Climate Change’, innovative approaches in restoring marsh-upland transition zones include “sediment placement, the use of uncontaminated on-site fill and integrated multihabitat designs” which could help populations of several rare plant and animal species. This critical lagoon enhancement plan is at risk of being eliminated from the plan if the Planning Commission’s recommended development program is approved.
The Baylands and Climate Change report was developed by hundreds of scientists, and led by the California Coastal Conservancy and the San Francisco Estuary Institute, and identifies the necessary steps to build and maintain a healthy bay in a climate-changed future.
For example, a key finding is the need to protect our existing wetlands and provide the needed sediment for wetlands to keep pace with sea level rise. Wetlands are self-maintaining and can be a resilient buffer against sea level rise and storms, if we allow the natural flows of sediment and water that nourish them to occur. The alternative is sea walls and levees that require ongoing, expensive maintenance and none of the other benefits of wetlands. Other key findings include:
- Start today. Time is a key factor. An accelerated effort in the next few decades can save over 80% of our existing wetlands over the next 100 years.
- Remember our streams. A key solution to rising Bay waters is right here in our own backyards. We should manage our land and streams to deliver sediment and clean water to the bay shore to nourish marsh growth. We should work with the entire watershed system, from the hills to the Bay.
- Sediment is essential to grow and sustain our wetlands. A major threat to S.F. Bay wetlands is a lack of sediment in the bay for building up the wetlands. Wetlands can keep up with rising seas only if sediment builds up along the surface of a marsh over time. This needed sediment can come from shipping and flood control channels, streams and other sources. Agencies have an opportunity to bring sediment to wetlands instead of dumping it in the ocean or in landfills.
Biohabitats applied this approach to the Brisbane Lagoon with some preliminary scenario concepts:
The North Lagoon Plan View shows the proposed areas for invasive removal and native re-vegetation (areas in green) as well as proposed fill and native planting (areas in pink).
Concept Section 2
Due to the area’s more gradual slope, the marsh vegetation enhancement will transition at a lower elevation to the tidal flats
Learn more about Biohabitats
Learn more about the report.