About the Green Harbors
The Green Harbors For Coastal Systems Stewardship and Resilience
Mission: To enhance the coastal ecosystem stewardship through research, education and outreach projects. Goal: To establish a “green urban harbor” – a harbor that lives within ecological and human limits. Where: In Your & My Back Yard. When: Every day. Why: To be healthy, wealthy and sustainable.
What does an urban harbor need to be whole, healthy, and resilient? The GHP’s premise is “The environment sets the limits for sustainable development and coastal stewardship. We can adapt with nature and flourish environmentally, economically and culturally.” We invite you to join us on this site, and in the global community of greening harbors.
The first question we ask is: what would nature do in urban harbors? Although there were exceptions, in general indigenous communities worldwide adapted their lives and activities over time – fishing, shellfishing, upland farming – to the evolving limits of their local ecosystems.
In industrialized harbors, we’re not doing as well. We witness the absence of native shellfish like oyster reefs, and the destruction of salt marsh and eel grass beds, which are three keystone coastal habitats. Although our technologies in waste water treatments have improved, our coastal waters are still in poor conditions and many of our urban harbors have been given a ‘dead fish sign' showing areas of recurring anoxia/hypoxia. These are areas where high nutrient and storm runoffs have led to a lack of dissolved oxygen that in turn endangers fish and other marine life, creating dead zones.
However, we hold hope for change that research in biomimicry - learning from and mimicking the biological wisdom of species and ecosystems - can be combined with traditional practices to restore and sustain whole systems (watersheds and coasts) and with them the human populations they support.
There are no recipes for a green harbor. All harbors and their surrounding coasts and peoples are unique, with their own mangroves or salt marshes embracing the coastline, with their own resident and migrating birds, with their own festivals celebrating quahogs or oysters, with their specific geological histories coloring their sands. But the GHP aproaches and methods, with LivingLabs described in these pages can be adapted to any local conditions. It supports people’s needs within their ecosystems, so that the social life of a harbor becomes re-integrated with its ecological life. This leads to long-term sustainability within the carrying capacity of coastal systems – we can replace the ‘dead fish’ signs with live ones!