Next Steps for Environmental Managers:
- Develop “living shorelines” along National Wildlife Refuges where possible and identify critical conservation areas to determine if other stabilization strategies are needed.
- Choose the most cost-effective and ecologically beneficial stabilization strategy by conducting cost-benefit analyses. This might require comparisons between oyster and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) restoration, or comparisons between SAV seeding and SAV transplanting.
- Continue monitoring to update habitat suitability maps as environmental conditions change. The Albemarle-Pamlico estuary is a very dynamic system that is impacted by human and natural disturbances.
- Communicate stabilization efforts with the public to promote adaptive management (learning from mistakes, successes, and failures).
- Support Living Shoreline Permits. If a general permit for living shorelines is established, then major permits may not be needed for oyster reef construction or other natural stabilization projects. In short, the permitting process for living shorelines will become more streamlined.
NOTE: Use the presented habitat suitability maps as guides, not fact. Ground-truth water quality data and other habitat characteristics before initiating restoration projects.