APNEP's objective is to protect the intact ecosystem processes, structures, and functions that sustain the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system. Preventing problems before they occur is the most cost-effective approach to maintaining environmental health.
The Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system has been altered significantly during the past 400 years as nearly undisturbed large ecosystems have made way for human development. While not as urbanized as many other watersheds, land uses like forestry, farming, industry, mining, and development characterize much of the land use in the region. These land use activities have important direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Further, more direct aquatic impacts can be seen through the existence of dams and water-dependent structures found throughout the region. If not properly managed, these activities and structures can cumulatively damage and destroy the underlying processes that allow for healthy and productive ecosystems. Human population growth and a changing climate will likely magnify these challenges in the future. To maintain the structure and function of the ecosystem, it is imperative to identify and protect the ecosystem’s important features.