Ecosystems Services: a benefit to wildlife and people
COASTAL FLOOD PROTECTION
Tidal marshes and flats, also known as salt marshes, protect communities and associated infrastructure from floods and slow down coastal erosion by providing a natural buffer. The GPI Atlantic (Genuine Progress Index for Atlantic Canada) has estimated the value of ecosystem services provided by salt marshes in Nova scotia as $400 million. In extreme weather events and storm surges, salt marsh habitat protects coastal communities by dissipating wave energy. Due to the flexibility of salt marsh plant stems, they are able to flatten and protect the marsh from erosion, while avoiding damage during violent storms.
Commercially and recreationally important fish and crustacean species use marsh habitat as a nursery. The habitat is hugely important to a variety of wildlife due to the abundance of food and refuge from strong currents. Rare species like the Eastern Lilaeopsis, a member of Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora, is found in estuaries in Nova Scotia. Migratory birds, including some Species at Risk, like the Red Knot and Ipswitch Sparrow, use salt marshes to rest and refuel as they travel to their breeding and wintering locations. Great Blue Herons can be found foraging at low tide and taking advantage of the invertebrate diversity in mudflats.