A new database is giving researchers in Mississippi and Alabama the opportunity to let others learn from their successes and setbacks in the field of habitat conservation and restoration.
The recently launched Mississippi-Alabama Habitat Conservation, Restoration and Enhancement Database is ready for use. Resource managers, scientists and other researchers are encouraged to enter their habitat projects into the easy-to use system.
“At this point, we want resource managers to submit entries,” said Roberta Arena Swann, deputy director of Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and manager of the Mississippi-Alabama Habitat Conservation, Restoration and Enhancement Database. “This database is only going to be useful if it captures a wide range of projects.”
If all habitat researchers share their work, the database may prove to be a valuable tool in replenishing and protecting habitats in the bi-state area. “It is our hope that this database will improve networking and coordination among grassroots groups, resource managers, scientists and local governments for better habitat conservation along the northern Gulf Coast,” Swann said.
The database, which also maps project locations, currently logs 11 projects in the 11 southern-most counties in Alabama and Mississippi. Projects deal with issues such as restoring stable channel dimensions, eradicating invasive species and stabilizing shoreline to help increase wildlife habitat.
Stewardship Coordinator Christopher May of Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve said there are two particularly useful database features. “First, the ability to upload images adds a valuable dimension to this database,” May said. “Users will be able to see how a site looked before and after management activities occurred. The second feature I find useful is the interactive map. Users can locate projects nearby or projects in particular habitat types that might be most relevant.”
Swann said the database will allow resource managers to work together. “The hope is that resource managers can gain insight into available conservation methods, funding sources, etc.,” Swann said. “They can network with other resource managers to tie small-scale restoration efforts into ecosystem-level projects.”
The process for submitting projects consists of obtaining a user name and password and entering all project information, including photos and location.
The public also is invited to view the projects and learn about what scientists are doing to protect and restore habitats on the coast.
The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium provided funding and technical expertise during Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s initial development of the database.
The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program provides ongoing funding and technical support.
The Mississippi-Alabama Habitat Conservation, Restoration and Enhancement Database can be found at http://restoration.disl.org/database/.