Restoration Monitoring and
NOAA developed standard monitoring protocols for estuary habitat restoration projects, as directed by the Estuary Restoration Act (ERA). These protocols allow for evaluation of restoration success.
Since restoration science is still in development, restoration projects may not meet intended goals. Monitoring can provide information to explain why goals are not met, and data from these projects can help evaluate relative efficacy of different methods and improve restoration techniques and project designs for future efforts.
NOAA Monitoring Resources:
- The Estuary Habitat Restoration Council has revised the 2003 minimum monitoring standards required under the Estuary Restoration Act. We revised the monitoring standards to provide additional information and clarify certain requirements to ensure future monitoring plans would more effectively meet the standards. Specifically, the document provides additional details on defining project goals, objectives, success criteria, and on preparing project evaluations. The Council hopes that the revised standards will promote monitoring and provide standards that restoration practitioners can apply to any estuary restoration project. As it did with the original standards in 2003, the Council is requesting public review and comment on the updated standards. The Council requests feedback on the clarity and understandability of the document.
- Monitoring Requirements Under the Estuary Restoration Act (4 pages, 112K) - describes five critical elements that must be included in monitoring plans for projects supported by Estuary Restoration Act funds.
- Science-Based Restoration Monitoring of Coastal Habitats (Thayer et al.), a two-volume manual, provides technical assistance, outlines necessary steps, and provides useful tools for the development and implementation of sound scientific monitoring of coastal restoration efforts.
- Volume I (2003), A Framework for Monitoring Plans Under the Estuaries and Clean Waters Act of 2000. Outlines the steps necessary to develop a monitoring plan for any coastal habitat restoration project, which include:
- An explanation of the stages of restoration and monitoring
- The presentation of a process of developing a monitoring plan through twelve steps
- An explanation for the basic elements that should be considered when writing a restoration monitoring plan, and
- Three matrices to help practitioners choose which habitat characteristics may be most appropriate to monitor for their project.
- Volume II (2005), Tools for Monitoring Coastal Habitats. Expands upon the information in Volume One and provides tools that aid the development and implementation of a plan. Information provided in Volume Two is designed more for practitioners who may not have extensive experience in coastal ecology. More experienced restoration practitioners however, may find the annotated bibliographies, literature review, and other tools provided useful as well. Tools provided include:
- Detailed treatment of the characteristics of each of the habitats and approaches to monitoring in that habitat
- A discussion of how to monitor the human dimensions of coastal restoration projects
- A review of how to select reference sites or conditions
- A representative index of restoration monitoring programs
- A list of costs associated with project monitoring, and
- A review of Federal legislation relevant to restoration monitoring.
NOAA is also conducting three monitoring studies: one national study determining the restoration success of salt marshes compared with reference sites; and two studies examining socio-economic monitoring and metrics development.
Ecological Monitoring Studies:
- Measuring Restoration Success Using Reserves as Reference Sites
In 2007, the NOAA Restoration Center and NOAA Ocean Service Estuarine Reserve Division awarded ERA funds to five Reserves in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). By using Reserve sites as reference marshes, investigators will evaluate the success of salt marsh restoration projects that support the goals of ERA.
Socio-economic Monitoring Studies:
- Measuring and Monitoring the Economic Effects of Habitat Restoration: A Summary of a NOAA Blue Ribbon Panel 2010. Compiled by Linwood Pendleton. This document summarizes the comments and recommendations from a NOAA Blue Ribbon Panel on Demonstrating the Economic Effects of Habitat Restoration. The seven member panel of economists was asked to undertake the following; an assessment of NOAA's recent environmental valuation research efforts; provide insight on improving priority setting and scoping given budgetary limitations; to suggest possible mechanisms for implementing future studies. The summary document is intended to be a starting point to help NOAA, its sister agencies, and its restoration partners consider systematic approaches for the collection of data to measure and monitor the economic outcomes of habitat restoration in the coastal zone. Please note the comments and recommendations as presented here are intended only to provide general guidance and do not represent an official NOAA position.
- Investigating Socioeconomic Value of NOAA Wetlands Restoration Projects
NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration is funding work to evaluate two large-scale restoration projects at Huntington Beach, CA and Lincoln Park, NJ to determine the economic benefits of restoration in coastal wetlands. This project will test methodologies for assessing the value of the impact of restoration that may be used on restoration sites in other areas of the U.S. It will also identify readily available metrics that correlate with the values created through restoration.
A report on the findings should be available in early 2011.
- Elwha River Dam Removal and Floodplain Restoration, Ecosystem Service Valuation Pilot Project: NOAA's Restoration Center and Office of Response and Restoration are developing an Ecosystem Service Valuation pilot project. The study aims to estimate the ecosystem service values associated with dam removal and floodplain restoration activities using economic survey methods. This study will focus on the values associated with ecosystem services in the restored Elwha River floodplain in Washington. The study will also examine the cultural services associated with the restoration project with particular reference to tribes. Survey design and project development are scheduled to begin in August 2010. The results from this study will improve NOAA's ability to demonstrate the benefits associated with habitat restoration. A final report is expected by Summer 2013.