Estuarine ecosystems are areas of immense ecological importance and provide numerous social, economic, and environmental benefits to people. An ecosystem services approach to coastal management and stewardship acknowledges this by deliberately considering the benefits that flow from coastal ecosystems to people and incorporating those benefits into management decisions.
In a project funded by the NERRS Science Collaborative, researchers and graduate students at the Nicholas Institute have been exploring how the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) could begin to establish a common but flexible ecosystem services management approach across its network of 29 coastal reserves. This approach centers on the creation of a set of standard yet adaptable ecosystem services conceptual models (ESCMs) for common coastal habitats that NERRS manage. ESCMs represent one possible entry point for beginning to incorporate a suite of ecosystem services considerations into a program or project. Partners at the North Carolina NERR and Rookery Bay NERR helped pilot this approach.
Workshop Guide: Using Facilitation Techniques to Integrate Ecosystem Services into Coastal Management Decisions
Guidance to help coastal managers facilitate ecosystem services workshops.
Coastal Ecosystem Services Toolkit
Online portal that shares common coastal ESCMs, ecosystem services metrics resources, ecosystem education and outreach materials, and case studies.
North Carolina NERR Case Study
A description of how coastal toolkit resources were applied at the NC NERR to create an oyster reef ESCM and develop associated ecosystem services metrics.
Rookery Bay NERR Case Study
A description of how coastal toolkit resources were applied at Rookery Bay NERR to create a mangrove ESCM and develop associated ecosystem services metrics.