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Goal: Improve marine and estuarine ecosystem habitat quality for the benefit of Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

tidal creek

Objective 1: Complete at least 4 acres of high priority coastal habitat improvement by creating or restoring habitat in each of oyster reef, mangrove, salt marsh, and upland buffer.

Description:  Estuarine habitats have been lost by direct conversion to upland habitats for the purpose of coastal development and have been deliberately altered by processes such as dredging and channelization for navigation and impounding or ditching of wetlands for mosquito control. Factors including non-point and point source pollution related to terrestrial land-use, vessel impacts, and altered hydrology for flood control, irrigation, and drinking water have also contributed to the degradation and loss of estuarine habitats. A number of both obligate and generalist SGCN use these habitats which are already experiencing the effects of sea level rise. Reversing historic habitat losses and increasing the resiliency of these habitats to current and future threats is essential to conserving the SGCN that are adapted to inhabit them.

brain coral

Objective 2: Increase coral cover by at least 25% on no fewer than 60 reefs through the repeated outplanting of no less than 60,000 colonies of reef-building elkhorn, brain, boulder, and star corals and monitor outplant success for at least a five-year period.

Description: Coral reefs have declined in Florida and throughout the Caribbean due to many factors including increasing water temperatures, sedimentation, pollution, disease, loss of keystone species, and physical impacts from boats, anchors, and other sources. As coral reefs become increasingly degraded and dominated by algae, restoration of sites by outplanting nursery-raised coral is the primary restoration technique available. To date, much focus has been placed on outplanting fast growing species like Acropora cervicornis but methods have recently been developed to effectively outplant slower growing reef-building corals as well. Effective restoration of reefs will require a multi-species outplanting approach, and projects funded by this implantation goal will contribute to that strategy.