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Development restrictions proposed to protect Boston wetlands

Members of Boston City Council as well as Mayor Marty Walsh are considering new regulations to protect local wetlands from overdevelopment.

The Boston Globe reported Feb. 11 that officials were looking into enacting a local Wetlands Protection Act that would supplement development restrictions already enforced at the state level. At the urging of groups like the Boston Conservation Commission, the rules would be another tool in the city’s growing arsenal against the effects of climate change.

Boston is considered especially susceptible to rising sea levels and more severe storm flooding over the next century as a result of global warming. However, preemptive restrictions on real estate development have been difficult to enact in a booming market.

Wetlands offer a natural buffer against flood waters, but they also play a major ecological role in the water cycle and as a habitat for wildlife. Urbanization is among the greatest threats to the preservation of wetlands. The Boston Conservation Commission oversees a total of almost seven square miles of land, including wetlands, around the city. Much of it is scattered in small patches in urban and suburban neighborhoods. A local wetlands protection ordinance could expand that jurisdiction and prevent more development that puts these areas at risk.

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