Nature-based restoration is not limited to the brackish waters and slow flowing tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, it can be applied all over the world. This was demonstrated last month when Underwood & Associates traveled to Japan with a team from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Baylor University. This was the team’s second trip to continue a partnership with Dr. Masayuki Komatsu of the Institute of Ecosystem Research to connect with municipal, state, and federal elected officials in an effort to educate the Japanese government about nature-based solutions and to start the design process of restoring several degraded waterways, including the Furukawa Marsh and Otomoura.
The traveling restoration team members each brought knowledge from their unique areas of expertise. SERC is known for their team of leading environmental scientists who focus on linking land-based impacts to water-based resources. Baylor University boasts top environmental scientists who focus on studying the real-world improvements resulting from ecosystem restoration efforts. MD DNR is a preeminent government agency that provides funding and technical assistance to implement restoration efforts. Our team was invited due to our experience in design and construction of holistic ecosystem restoration projects. With a schedule packed with site visits and meetings, the team made the most of this 2-week adventure. The trip was comprised of three main segments: 1. working to educate elected officials on why nature-based ecosystem restoration is valuable and worth the investment of tax payer dollars, 2. conducting technical site surveys and design assessments to move forward with design of specific projects, and 3. meeting with local citizens, businesses, and environmental groups to share our experiences with successful restoration project implementation.
One of the main goals of the trip was to discuss the possibility of utilizing regenerative and nature-based ecosystem restoration techniques to improve water quality specifically to restore and maintain Japan’s fisheries while also increasing resilience to large storm events. We also presented on ways to use ecosystem restoration projects to recover natural areas that were lost in the 2011 tsunami and how to combine vital post-tsunami rebuilding efforts with beneficial ecological restoration projects to increase climate resilience and both economic and environmental benefits. Holistic ecological restoration can provide answers to problems that many towns and cities around the world are seeking to solve. When we can collaborate, share, and transfer ideas across borders and across oceans, we give the Earth the best opportunity for widespread regeneration.