The Green Harbors Project For Coastal Ecosystem Stewardship
Our goal is to establish green urban harbors - harbors that live within ecological and human limits. GHP supports coastal ecosystem stewardship through effective education, outreach, research and monitoring activities with local communities and harbor users. Through LivingLabs we provide unique opportunities to teach and learn by doing concrete projects that address and solve local environmental issues.
(Image credits: http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/oceanography-book/Images/ahupuaa.jpg; Frankic and Greber 2011)
The GHP methodology is derived from a 1500 year old Native Hawaiian Ahupua’a approach. These ancient sustainable practices went "from the top of the mountain and watershed to the coral reefs" ensuring the stewardship of water, fish and natural resources across all habitats. Ahupua’a followed the underlying transects of keystone habitats nature had established in a coastal area over millions of years that best fit and supported the needs of estuarine harbors for fish habitats, nutrient retention, filtering water and protecting the shore from erosion and storms.
Under the Ahupua’a approach the main connection - as well as impediment - among the different self-sustaining units in a watershed was both the quality and quantity of the water. Land stewardship practices were established to ensure that water used for agricultural purposes higher on the mountains was either unharmed or enhanced for downstream uses as well as for coastal harbors.
In Boston, our first harbor, GHP seeks a similar interconnection between the City of Boston and Boston Harbor. Based on the Ahupua’a approach, the GHP envisioned three potential layers or units where LivingLabs are estbalished between academia and local communities:
- The City’s and Harbor’s main watersheds: Neponset, Charles, and Mystic; LivingLabs focus is on storm water management, green roofs and other pervious surfaces, as well as habitat resoration for watersheds self-sustainability
- Coastal intertidal areas (e.g. LivingLabs at the Savin Hill Cove): a) including the Harbor walk (potential sites for restoring native species of shellfish, e.g. oysters, mussels); b)salt marsh restoration sites (e.g. floating islands); and c) tidal mud flats with soft shell clam restoration
- Eelgrass beds and their restoration in Boston Harbor
LivingLabs restoration approach is based on integrated restoration of three keystone coastal habitats - where oyster reefs, and other shellfish beds are in the transect with salt mrashes and eel grass beds established in nature for millions of years and cannot be restored successfully when seperated from each other (Frankic et al, 2011).