Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group

Guidance for Coastal Ecosystem Restoration and Monitoring to Create or Improve Bird-Nesting Habitat

With the number of coastal restoration projects being planned or designed following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the Louisiana Trustees identified a need for guidance on ecosystem restoration and monitoring specific to creating or improving bird-nesting habitat.

The Challenge

The Water Institute was tasked by the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group to develop a guidance that could help answer the question, “How can coastal ecosystem restoration projects more effectively benefit bird-nesting habitats?”

Three specific needs for coastal ecosystem restoration project teams were identified as:

  • Synthesize preferential nesting habitat requirements for target coastal nesting birds.
  • Design guidance for ecosystem restoration project planning, engineering and design, construction, and operations and maintenance to support nesting of target coastal bird species.
  • Develop monitoring guidance to quantify bird nesting that will support programmatic and project-scale planning and reporting, as well as inform active adaptive management of ecosystem restoration projects to maximize habitat for birds from ecosystem restoration in coastal Louisiana.

The Approach

The Water Institute worked with partners to organize more than 100 facilitated calls and working sessions over a period of two years which brought together subject matter experts, ecosystem restoration project team members, and agency representatives who are involved in coastal restoration activities. This extensive input, along with a broad literature review, were used to develop the, “Guidance for Coastal Ecosystem Restoration and Monitoring to Create or Improve Bird-Nesting Habitat” document.

This guidance primarily applies to the following ecosystem restoration project types: Barrier Island /headland restoration, marsh creation, and ridge restoration that are within, or consistent with, the 2017 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan. Much of the guidance and synthesized information in the document is also relevant to a wide range of coastal ecosystem restoration project types along the northern Gulf of Mexico including sediment diversions, crevasses, and marsh terrace creation.

The resulting document summarizes the habitat that appears to be most used by nesting birds in coastal Louisiana, summary of planning, engineering and design consideration, lessons learned from past coastal restoration projects, and an outline of the data gaps that still exists as it relates to bird biology and habitat needs.