EPA Science Inventory

Frameworks Proposed for Reporting on the First National Wetland Condition Assessment


KENTULA, M. E., T. MAGEE, AND A. M. NAHLIK. Frameworks Proposed for Reporting on the First National Wetland Condition Assessment. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-11/104 (NTIS PB2012-110756), 2011.


The 2011 National Wetland Condition Assessment (NWCA) is the first-ever national assessment of wetland condition and the fifth in a series of National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS), after streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal systems. The NWCA was implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in collaboration with states, tribes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal partners. The subject report explores how the results of the 2011 NWCA might be presented effectively in a baseline report within two frameworks. One framework addresses reporting on ecological condition; the other, the new and cutting-edge area of ecosystem services. The frameworks are modeled after a hallmark of the NARS assessments — the timely completion of an assessment report that communicates key results in a format that can be easily understood by a variety of audiences (e.g., lay people, policy makers, and resource managers, as well as scientists). The report responds to the recent report to the U.S. President, “Sustaining Environmental Capital: Protecting Society and the Economy” which calls for (1) an integrated, comprehensive assessment of the condition of U.S. ecosystems; (2) predictions concerning trends in ecosystem change; (3) syntheses of research findings on how ecosystem structure and condition are linked to the ecosystem functions that contribute to societally important ecosystem services; and (4) characterization of challenges to the sustainability of benefit from ecosystems.


This document presents potential frameworks for reporting the results from the 2011 National Wetland Condition Assessment (NWCA) conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and its partners. We, first, provide background on the goals, objectives, and design of the NWCA and its relationship to other USEPA National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS). Next, we explore how the results of the 2011 NWCA might effectively be presented in a baseline report on national wetland condition within two frameworks. One addresses reporting on ecological condition; the other, ecosystem services. The report of the results from the NWCA (targeted for completion in 2013) can parallel the existing NARS reports and augment those reports with new information. The NWCA report would, at minimum, include the major categories of results describing ecological condition that are found in the Wadeable Stream and Lake Assessment reports. Parallel result categories to be considered for NWCA reporting are: extent of the wetland resource, status of wetland ecological condition, extent of wetland area with detectable levels of toxic algae, extent of stressors, and relationship between stressors and ecological condition. The NWCA can eventually report on condition in ways that are similar to the Wadeable Streams and Lakes Assessments. However, several constraints (e.g., the availability of autecological data and appropriate reference site data, and the research required for some analysis approaches) will influence the specific content for reporting on wetland condition. In addition, the NWCA has the capacity to report on additional aspects of the extent of the resource, ecological condition, and extent of stressors. The idea of using NARS data to address the delivery of ecosystem services is new and was addressed to a limited degree in the National Lakes Assessment’s reporting on suitability for recreation, which the NWCA can also do. Additional reporting on delivery of services will require research. The efforts that are most developed support reporting on the maintenance of a habitable climate through documentation of the role of wetlands in carbon dynamics and on provision of water for consumption through documentation of the role of wetlands in denitrification. This report demonstrates the wealth of information that can be produced by the NWCA for the 2013 report and going forward. It also highlights the value of the NWCA to the decision making that will govern the use, management, and protection of our wetland resource.


Frameworks Proposed for Reporting on the First National Wetland Condition Assessment   (PDF,NA pp, 184 KB,  about PDF)

Record Details:

Start Date: 11/01/2011
Completion Date: 11/01/2011
Record Last Revised: 09/17/2012
Record Created: 09/27/2011
Record Released: 09/27/2011
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 238481