WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 12, 2021 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) will serve as the lead organization for a recently awarded research grant totaling $3.2 million from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). As North America's premier science-based wetland habitat conservation organization, this grant will help scientists assess the climate change mitigation potential of wetland restoration in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The new study will focus on climate benefits to restoring drained wetlands across 15 states in the Central U.S.
Wetlands account for up to 30% of global carbon storage and restored wetlands can sequester carbon five times faster than restored grasslands. However, wetlands also have complex greenhouse gas cycles and it has been difficult to comprehensively account for the role of wetlands in climate mitigation. Across the American Midwest, an estimated 40-90% of wetlands have been drained since 1780. As a result, more than 80% of wetlands restoration under CRP takes place in this region.
"We've long known wetlands offer many ecosystem services that have an outsized benefit for wildlife and people," said Dr. Ellen Herbert, DU's Ecosystem Services Scientist. "This study will help improve our understanding of the potential of CRP-restored wetlands to mitigate the effects of climate change, improve water quality and provide habitat. We believe the data gathered from this study will ultimately demonstrate the effectiveness and overall values offered by CRP. And we greatly appreciate USDA for selecting DU to partner in this project."
CRP is a voluntary program that provides a secure income stream to farmers, ranchers and other landowners as an incentive to establish long-term, resource-conserving cover on their land.
Research will be conducted in partnership with USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Clemson University, Kenyon College, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania State University, United Tribes Technical College, University of Missouri, The University of Texas at Austin, and USDA North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory.
"The size of this award is exciting because it has allowed us to bring together a diverse partnership of experts ranging from soil scientists to remote sensing experts to answer fundamental questions about wetland functions in agricultural landscapes across the Central U.S.," said Dr. Steve Adair, DU's Chief Scientist. "With over a dozen student and postdoctoral positions associated with this grant, we will also be helping train the next generation of natural resource scientists."
For more information, visit www.ducks.org, and be sure to Follow DU's news Twitter feed – @DUNews1937 – to get the most up-to-date news from Ducks Unlimited.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.