New Hampshire’s 1000 square mile coastal zone is showing signs of stress in its rivers, shorelines, and two major estuaries. This stress stems from significant population increases and subsequent development, as well as intensifying weather events coupled with land use policies inadequate to manage the impacts of these anthropogenic and natural stressors.1 To effectively manage this complex social ecological system, the management community must expand its current monitoring efforts. Tracking ecological data only tells half the story; collecting social data sheds light on how people engage coastal ecosystems and highlights values crucial for affecting behavior change. The goal of this project is to establish a process to integrate social indicators into existing measures of health in New Hampshire’s coastal watershed: the Piscataqua Region watershed. To begin this process, the project team conducted an extensive assessment of values through almost 40 one-on-one interviews with watershed stakeholders and used a technical advisory process to find data to create indicators that reflected these stakeholder values. These datasets were assessed based on quality and scale, then ranked according to their relevance to regional social ecological themes. After a broad review of existing data sources, the project team shared a list of 31 potential indicators with the advisory board for input, refining, and ranking. This input was used to then categorize and narrow 31 indicators to 15 indicators that fit into seven categories. Finally, the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership staff evaluated and chose the final indicators: housing permits, stormwater effort, and stewardship behavior, for their relevance to environmental trends, how rigorously they were collected, geographic scale, and applicability to management actions. These indicators will be published in the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership’s 2018 State of Our Estuaries Report and will serve as a platform on which to build a long term social monitoring program for the region.
Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership
Barley-Greenfield, Simone, "The Social Indicators Final Project Report" (2017). PREP Reports & Publications. 409.