restoring biscayne bay

and the economic value of rehydrating coastal wetlands


As a natural capital asset, biscayne bay’s coastal wetlands
provide essential ecosystem services
that can be valued.


Livable Communities Thriving Ecosystems

Historically, rainfall an overland freshwater flows kept the waters of Biscayne Bay at low salinity levels, which enabled healthy ecosystems to thrive. Over the last 50-100 years, the Bay has become increasingly salty and has suffered lost productivity. Rehydrating Biscayne Bay’s wetlands is a critical link in restoring its ecosystem health and function.

Opportunity for Resilience

Resilience strengthens a community’s ability to adapt and endure when faced with challenges of multiple scales - threats to drinking water, major storms, aging infrastructure, coastal erosion, and rising oceans.

Wetland rehydration is an important step toward coastal resilience. Increasing freshwater flows will provide critical aquifer protection. Additional restoration benefits extend far beyond project area wetlands, enhancing Biscayne Bay’s broader ecosystems and the communities they support.

The value of nature means many things to many people, but we know when it comes to decision making that an economic approach is key.

Rehydrated coastal wetlands would provide $120M in ecosystem services annually, amounting to $3.3B when treated as an asset.


Biscayne Bay’s Natural Capital

As natural capital, the ecosystems of Biscayne Bay form the foundation of our lives and economies. Ecosystem functions produce goods and services we depend on everyday - including clean water and air, thriving fisheries for food and recreation, protection from storms, and beautiful views. Placing economic value on the flow of ecosystem goods and services is one way to highlight the importance of natural capital to our communities.


Healthy Ecosystems resilient communities


In addition to aquifer protection and strengthening the overall flow of wetland ecosystem services to communities, rehydration helps surrounding marine ecosystems function by:

  • Lowering salinity levels

  • Reducing nutrients that feed algal blooms

  • Improving fish and wildlife habitat

  • Managing sediment loads

  • Increasing carbon storage capacity 

Enhancing Biscayne Bay’s health leads to improved resilience for the region. Building resilience includes, but isn’t limited to, increasing protection from storms, ensuring reliable drinking water, enabling continued recreational and commercial fishing, and buffering sea level rise.


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Armistead, C., Jensen, C., Madsen, T., Kocian, M. 2019. Restoring Biscayne Bay and the Economic Value of Rehydrating Coastal Wetlands. Earth Economics, Tacoma, WA.

© 2019 Earth Economics. All rights reserved.

This project was prepared for Miami Waterkeeper (MWK), funded by The Miami Foundation. MWK is a Miami-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that advocates for South Florida's watershed and wildlife - working to ensure swimmable, drinkable, fishable water in South Florida for all.

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