Protecting or restoring an ecosystem is often a complex, expensive, and controversial process. Collaborative efforts that combine the expertise of many organizations and key stakeholders represent the most effective method.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) believes in this approach, and the NOAA Coastal Services Center in particular is dedicated to bringing together traditional and nontraditional groups in the decision-making process. The Center also provides the expertise, training, data, and other services needed to help partners attain their conservation and restoration planning goals.
The Center's Web site showcases many of the organization's past efforts, as well as data and tools developed for the broader conservation and restoration community. This article provides an overview of the products and services available to potential partners.
"Working together, through partnerships with NOAA and with the client community, is the best way to make a difference," reports Davidson.
Tools and Services
Technology and Data
The Center helps partners select and use appropriate data and technology to make their initiatives more strategic and effective. Examples include prioritization methodologies, remote sensing data, software and visualization tools, and spatial approaches using geographic information system (GIS) technology. With these tools, users can better understand landscape, seascape, and human factors and visualize potential stressors and threats.
Technology and data are also used to find solutions and prioritize conservation and restoration efforts. Maps created with remote sensing data, for example, are used to detect changes in land cover over time. This data layer can also be input into a GIS to help answer "what if" questions—what would happen if a golf course community were put at this site? Or an industrial park? GIS maps help decision makers analyze and communicate potential impacts.
Amazing results can occur when nontraditional partners such as representatives from working waterfronts and commercial fishing entities band together to identify common goals and priorities.
Exploring partnership opportunities and providing the framework needed to make these unions successful is a Center specialty. Services in this arena include needs assessments, seed funding for collaborative planning, and process identification and facilitation.
Another effective means of advancing conservation and restoration techniques comes through interactions within the professional community. For this reason, the Center sponsors conference sessions, plans workshops, and provides other venues to address conservation and restoration issues and hatch new ideas and techniques.
Training courses that enhance both process and technical skills are available to help the conservation and restoration community build new skills. Some course topics include project design and evaluation, facilitation and collaborative processes, GIS, and spatial analysis. The courses can be brought to the local site, and many are available via the Web.The Center also provides topic-specific, information-based Web sites where people can learn about current projects, methods, and techniques that support successful conservation and habitat restoration planning. The sites include networking pages, best practices information, and other conservation and restoration topics.
Visit the Web site, www.csc.noaa.gov/cons_rest/, to see how the NOAACoastalServicesCenter can help you with your conservation and restoration needs.