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A GIS Approach to Habitat Restoration Site Selection and Prioritization in the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary

by Kunert, Kelly

Abstract (Summary)
The New York-New Jersey Harbor is an urban estuary that has suffered the effects of industrial pollution, urban development, and harbor dredging. One of the most prominent issues arising from the Harbor’s urban history is the loss of wetland habitat. The New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program (HEP) has made it a priority to protect and restore habitat in the Harbor. The current method employed by the HEP to identify and prioritize habitats for restoration is a consensus decision approach. While this approach has been effective for identifying approximately 60 acquisition sites and 88 restoration projects, concern has been expressed by representatives from the agencies that fund these restoration projects that the current method is not scientifically grounded.

This paper explores an alternate approach to habitat restoration site selection and prioritization in the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary using a geographic information system (GIS). A set of habitat restoration criteria was developed and criteria grids depicting the developed parameters were created and analyzed using ArcGIS 9.0. The analysis results in three maps, identifying wetland sites, HEP acquisition sites, and HEP restoration sites that are most suitable for restoration efforts. From the maps, ten sites were identified as recommended sites for inclusion on the HEP Priority Acquisition and Restoration Sites List. Two accompanying tables prioritize the HEP acquisition and restoration sites based on their final suitability values indicated by the maps. Grids of the current HEP restoration and acquisition sites were overlain on the final wetlands suitability grid to compare the current restoration site selection method with the GIS approach. The comparison indicates that three wetland sites identified as top priority restoration sites by the GIS method were also identified by the current HWG consensus planning method. Seven of the GIS-selected sites are not currently listed on the HEP Priority Acquisition and Restoration Sites List.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Kirby-Smith, William

School:Duke University

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:new york jersey harbor estuary program hep geographic information system gis habitat restoration

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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