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First in Flight, Last in Wetlands Preservation?

Co Authors:

John Petersen
Environmental Studies
Oberlin College

Nancy London
Environmental Studies Program
Oberlin College


Developed for an introductory environmental studies course, this case study explores the ecological, economic, and legislative issues associated with land development and wetland loss. Students role-play the points of view of four different stakeholders and then write a report that provides specific recommendations for the mayor of a city considering an expansion of the metropolitan airport that will result in the loss of wetlands. Biodiversity is a topic that students typically associate with tropical regions of the world. A strength of this case is that it brings this topic home by connecting biodiversity with tradeoffs involved in local economic development, with the functional value of wetlands, and with the controversy surrounding wetland "mitigation" as a means of achieving the national "no net wetland loss" policy goal.

  • Explore the legitimacy of alternate perspectives—"smart growth" activist, pro-business person, ecological scientist, and government official—on the ecological and economic implications of wetland destruction and remediation.
  • Understand the role of temperate wetland ecosystems in providing ecological services.
  • Apply knowledge of biodiversity to help craft a solution to a regional problem.
  • Develop skills at articulating and defending a clear position on an environmental issue and then at negotiating areas of potential compromise with other stakeholders.
Keywords: Wetlands; mitigation; biodiversity; ecosystem; Environmental Protection Agency; EPA; Clean Water Act; Cleveland; Ohio
Topical Area: Policy issues, Regulatory issues, Scientific argumentation, Social issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Role-Play
Language: English
Subject Headings: Environmental Science   Ecology   Natural Resource Management  
Date Posted: 06/11/03
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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