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Webinar: A Proof-of-Concept Application of a New Ecosystem Assessment/Decision Framework: Restoring Rookery Islands of the Mission-Aransas Reserve
Wednesday, 14 November 2018, 12:00
Wednesday, November 14, 2018. 12:00PM. Webinar: A Proof-of-Concept Application of a New Ecosystem Assessment/Decision Framework: Restoring Rookery Islands of the Mission-Aransas Reserve. John H. Gentile and Mark A. Harwell, Harwell Gentile & Associates. Sponsored by NOAA. More information here.
Over the past century, the environment of the Gulf of Mexico has been significantly altered and impaired by extensive human activities. A national commitment to restore the Gulf was finally initiated in response to the unprecedented Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Consequently, there is now a critical need for an assessment framework and associated set of indicators that can characterize the health and sustainability of an ecosystem having the scale and complexity of the Gulf. Such an assessment framework presented here has been developed as an integration of previous ecological risk- and environmental management-based frameworks for assessing ecological health. This conceptual framework is in its essence a comprehensive conceptual model of the coupled human-ecological system. It was designed to identify the natural and anthropogenic Drivers, Pressures, and Stressors impinging on ecosystems and ecosystem services and the ecological Conditions that result, manifested as effects on valued ecosystem components. Four types of societal and ecological Responses are also specified: reduction of pressures and stressors, remediation of existing stressors, active ecosystem restoration, and natural ecological recovery. From this conceptual framework are derived the specific indicators to characterize ecological condition and progress towards achieving defined ecological health and sustainability goals. We present a proof-of-concept evaluation of this integrated assessment/ decision framework to inform specific environmental management decisions of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. This pilot study has demonstrated the utility of the assessment and decision-support framework in restoring Texas coastal resident and migratory bird populations through enhancement of rookery islands in the Reserve.