APNEP's 2012-2022 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) was a significant step forward for APNEP. While the Albemarle-Pamlico region is rich in natural resources, the ecosystem faces unique challenges. The CCMP aims to usher in a new era of environmental resource management to ensure these resources are sustained and available to future generations.
The shift from management methods presented in the previous CCMP (1994) is most notably evident in the integration of ecosystem-based management practices. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) includes consideration of human and natural systems, an adaptive management framework, and meaningful engagement with the region’s citizens to find environmental management and policy solutions. Following a directive from APNEP’s Policy Board in December 2009 and support from APNEP’s Policy Board and Advisory Committees, the CCMP was developed using principles of EBM.
The CCMP is organized by asking and then answering four basic questions: what is a healthy Albemarle-Pamlico system, what is the current condition of the system, what are the most significant challenges facing the system over the next 10 years, and what actions should be implemented to best achieve a healthy system? Goals, outcomes, objectives, and actions were carefully crafted through a systems-based analysis of the regional ecosystem. To achieve the APNEP mission, three overarching goals have been established:
- Goal 1: A region where human communities are sustained by a functioning ecosystem
- Goal 2: A region where aquatic, wetland, and upland habitats support viable populations of native species
- Goal 3: A region where water quantity and quality maintain ecological integrity
Initiatives include protection and restoration efforts to improve water quality and habitats, identification of gaps in knowledge of the system, and engagement of the public to make connections between the natural environment and services provided by the system. APNEP has placed an emphasis on assessment and monitoring to gain further knowledge of the system and facilitate adaptive management.
Finally, as a National Estuary Program, much of APNEP’s work is achieved through collaborative partnerships and leveraged resources with others interested in environmental and natural resource management in the region. Many of the objectives and actions in the CCMP rely on involvement from key governmental, non-profit, and other partners. In a time of growing austerity, the continued success of our program is dependent on the success of these partnerships.
The management actions identified in this plan are presented in five general components which together address the major challenges to understanding, protecting, and restoring ecosystem health and function while embracing the new systems-based approach to managing the Albemarle-Pamlico region. The five components are based on the APNEP mission statement and the adaptive management cycle. These components, represented by the icons below, are: Identify, Protect, Restore, Engage, and Monitor.