APNEP's focus on restoration recognizes that some ecosystem function has been lost, and that it must be strategically repaired to meet the demands of human and natural environments. The implementation and maintenance of integrative ecosystem restoration projects will be guided by comprehensive regional ecosystem assessments.
The protection and restoration components are closely linked, as they both address common ecosystem functions and sources of decline. The Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system has been modified by the actions of its human inhabitants. Changes to the landscape that accommodate homes, businesses, and infrastructure have increased runoff, which results in more polluted water reaching our rivers and sounds. Permanent vegetation removal, ditching, and the loss of riparian areas have increased erosion and degraded habitat for aquatic and upland species. Dams have blocked the passage of diadromous fish species. These actions have caused flooding, algal blooms, species declines, closed shellfish beds, and other serious impacts to the estuarine environment.
Despite these impacts, the Albemarle-Pamlico region is well positioned to benefit from coordinated and integrated restoration approaches. Urban centers like Raleigh and Durham continue to implement state-of-the-art development and infrastructure projects that advance LID approaches. Farmers and foresters are adopting best management practices that ensure the viability of working lands while improving water quality. Coastal hydrology, oyster reefs, degraded shorelines, and other critical ecosystem components are being restored through innovative projects. These restoration efforts will ultimately result in cleaner water, healthier ecosystems, and associated benefits for the people of the region.