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Frequently Asked Questions


What is Habitat Restoration?
Why Restore Habitats?
Who can do habitat restoration?
What habitats are being considered for restoration?
Are restored habitats as productive as the previously unperturbed habitats were?

What is Habitat Restoration?
Habitat restoration can be defined in many different ways. In general, habitat restoration involves all of those measures necessary to restore, enhance, or create healthy ecosystems, including the reestablishment of native vegetation and fish and wildlife habitat on disturbed or denuded sites. The restoration of the appropriate hydrology and soils on a site are also critical in order to create sustainable ecosystems (Save the Bay 2001).

Restoration activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • The re-establishment of habitat structure, be it chemical, biological, or physical. This may include reestablishing or maintaining hydrology, whether by reestablishing river or tidal flow, restoring flood regimes, or re-establishing topography.
  • Control of exotic, non-native, or invasive species of plants or animals.
  • Re-vegetation through native plantings or natural succession.
  • Removal of barriers or construction of fish ladders to provide passage for spawning or migrating fish.
  • Controlling, reducing, or eliminating other specific adverse impacts such as controlling polluted runoff

Why Restore Habitats?

Habitat restoration is necessary for a variety of reasons. Habitat restoration is being used to reintroduce locally extirpated rare plant species and to create habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife. The restoration of wetlands and riparian areas is helping to reverse long-term trends in habitat loss, which has occurred over the last century. Numerous small and large-scale projects are underway to restore the natural hydrology, soils and vegetation to habitats around Rhode Island.

Who can do habitat restoration?
Most often, habitat restoration activities are conducted by federal, state, and local government resource agencies, as well as by private and nonprofit groups in order to restore and enhance degraded ecosystems. Even private landowners are restoring habitats on their lands because they are good stewards of the land and believe it is the right thing to do. Often habitat restoration appeals to many private landowners because they can get financial and technical assistance to help with the project.

What habitats are being considered for restoration?
The habitat restoration portal focuses on restoration of fish runs in streams and rivers, salt marsh, and seagrass habitats. There are many other habitats in Rhode Island that may be restored, and there are other programs with goals to restore these other habitats, including freshwater wetlands, beach vegetation, coastal ponds, salt ponds, coastal grasslands, lobster and shellfish reefs, maritime forests, intertidal flats, and more.

Are restored habitats as productive as the previously unperturbed habitats?
Just as habitats are not degraded overnight, habitat structure and function also take time to become reestablished, even when the best available engineering and scientific techniques are used. Restoration is still a relatively young science, and many habitat restorations completed over the last decade are still becoming established, evolving toward better functioning, and so are still under evaluation. During this monitoring phase, research often reveals that further modifications or corrections are needed to achieve the desired level of restoration. Some habitats have been degraded so severely over such a long period of time that it may take years before they become as productive as undamaged areas, so it is critical to evaluate every project with a thorough and ongoing monitoring program (NOAA Restoration Center 2001).


Save The Bay, Inc., People for Narragansett Bay. 2001. Save The Bay Web site: What is Habitat Restoration? (http://www.savebay.org/).

NOAA Restoration Center. 2001. NOAA Restoration Center Web site: Are restored habitats as productive as the previously unperturbed habitats were? (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/restoration).

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Project Partner web pages - RIHRT, CRMC, NBEP, STB

This site was created through a partnership of the:

Coastal Resources Management Council
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
Save The Bay®