The Nature Conservancy’s Restoration Week celebrates marine science in action

The Conservancy is highlighting the benefits of coral, mangrove, sea grass, and shellfish restoration to people and nature including reducing risk from natural disasters for coastal communities and benefits to local economies through tourism and additional fish production

BOSTON – The Nature Conservancy, a leader in global marine restoration, is celebrating science in action with the first annual Restoration Week now – June 8th www.nature.org/RestorationWeek. Dam removals, sea grass meadows, and other natural coastal features provide important habitat that supports local businesses through fishing, tourism and other economic drivers, as well as help prevent erosion and reduce the risk to coastal communities during storms.

The Conservancy understands the dual benefits to people and nature in restoring coastal habitats and over the past decade has been putting science into action in the water at over 160 restoration sites around the globe, 148 of them conducted in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in U.S. waters. We’ve captured highlights of our ten-year partnership with NOAA and some of our restoration successes in the report: Restoration Works.

“Coral reefs, oyster reefs and mangroves offer flexible, cost-effective, and sustainable first lines of defense from coastal hazards like storms, erosion and floods, and additional economic co-benefits that built infrastructure like sea walls and breakwaters do not,” said Dr. Michael Beck, Lead Marine Scientist at The Nature Conservancy.

In Massachusetts, restoration projects are a major part of the work at The Conservancy, from freshwater to saltwater.

Examples of science in action:

  • Dam Removal – Last summer, The Conservancy joined with partners to remove the Hopewell Mills Dam in Taunton, and researchers are already seeing fish return to reaches of the river which they have been unable to access since 1818. The Taunton River is one of the only free-flowing rivers in New England, and restoring fish passage to a major tributary like the Mill River, will have great significance for the river’s famed river herring run, which is one of the largest in the region. Furthermore, The Conservancy led an alliance of conservation organizations, engineers, water suppliers and municipalities which successfully advocated for enactment of a new law that will make it easier to repair or remove unsafe dams and coastal and inland flood control infrastructure.  The law created a $20.1 million state fund for loans and grants to local governmental bodies, charitable organizations and private dam owners.  State agencies will administer the funds through robust programs in dam safety, coastal zone management and ecological restoration.
  • Sea Grasses – The Conservancy is leading the world’s largest eelgrass restoration effort with partners and hundreds of volunteers. The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, together with U.S. Representatives Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), sponsored research, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that centered on laboratory analysis of plants from 10 locations—from Cape Cod to Long Island. The Conservancy put together a strategic “road map” of recommendations that will help protect remaining eelgrass meadows and other estuarine habitats from further declines and ensure long lasting restoration success.
  • Connecticut River –Comprised of scientists from the four states the river touches, the Connecticut River conservation team works across state lines to understand the river for what it is — the center of the largest freshwater ecosystem in New England. The team works to restore critical processes and features like natural stream flow, connectivity and intact floodplains across four states.
  • Oysters – The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire and The University of New Hampshire, with others, are scaling-up efforts to restore local oyster reefs in the Great Bay Estuary. Reefs are re-built to clean the water and provide fish habitat.
  • Watershed – The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts along with partners funded two model rain gardens at the Bristol County Agricultural High School last year. Rain gardens provide many benefits to the local watershed, such as retention and filtering of storm water, reduction of flooding, prevention of erosion, and improvement of water quality.

Additional Resources for Journalists:

  • NOAA State of the Coasts – latest economic and population statistics for the U.S. coastline: http://stateofthecoast.noaa.gov/
  • World Risk Report, The Nature Conservancy co-authored report on the role nature can play in reducing risks from storms.
  • Highlights of our ten-year partnership with NOAA: Restoration Works.
  • Conservancy tools and approach to help communities make better decisions about use and protection of their coastlines: www.coastalresilience.org.

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org/mass

 

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