Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) Habitat Mapping Project
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (NFWF GEBF) awarded a grant to the state of Alabama to conduct a habitat mapping project with the MBNEP. The Covington Team acted as the science lead for the MBNEP project providing field and coastal habitat classification mapping expertise in support of the development of an up-to-date dataset of high-resolution spatial habitat data with a focus on wetlands for Mobile and Baldwin Counties in coastal Alabama. The habitat mapping effort included imagery acquisition, complex habitat delineations using state of the art classification algorithms, field verification of habitats, image interpretation, procedural documentation, and quality control. In addition, landcover change analysis was utilized to provide contextual baseline information about the past, current, and future conditions of terrestrial and marine habitats to aid in restoration planning. This critical information, along with the previous mapping efforts, submerged aquatic vegetation mapping data recently created, and the information from watershed management plans, will be used to develop a comprehensive habitat restoration plan for the entire MBNEP study area for funds associated with Deepwater Horizon restoration activities. This comprehensive restoration plan will allow the MBNEP and the state of Alabama to identify degraded habitats and prioritize areas for restoration and improvement.