Ecosystem restoration and ensuring resiliency across landscapes.
The iconic power of Half Dome looming over Yosemite Valley. A meandering stream in Grand Teton teeming with fish. A dense fog early in the morning settled into the lush valleys of Great Smoky Mountains. Immersing oneself in the awe-inspiring landscape of a national park is truly an unforgettable experience. Many national parks were created because of their unique landscapes and their biodiverse ecosystems that host a rich variety of wildlife and plants – some of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
National parks are home to an abundant complexity of terrestrial and aquatic habitats, often acting as a refuge for wildlife. But even protected lands are not immune to threats. Climate change, invasive species, habitat degradation, and ecosystem fragmentation put national park landscapes at risk, jeopardizing critical habitat that many of our incredible species rely on, and putting rare native plants at risk for extinction.
Working with an array of partners beyond park boundaries on a holistic, collaborative approach to manage ecosystems and keep wildlife corridors intact is essential for successful long-term conservation at scale. NPF supports high priority ecosystem restoration and resiliency projects across the national park system, helping to ensure that these biodiverse ecosystems remain vibrant for generations to come.
Faced with degradation and challenges from invasive species, NPF works to protect native habitats and restore sensitive ecosystems. In Death Valley National Park, NPF is supporting efforts to protect vital desert springs from invasive feral burros, helping to safeguard a key habitat area for desert bighorn sheep and the endangered Southwestern Willow flycatcher.
From wildlife habitat to water quality improvements to acting as a buffer to storm damage, wetlands are highly beneficial and productive ecosystems. But over two million acres of wetlands within national parks have been degraded due to past land uses, invasive species, and human alteration of natural water flow across the landscape. NPF is working with NPS to restore wetlands to their natural state, such as removing invasives in key habitat areas at Indiana Dunes National Park and Everglades National Park, and helping to restore natural tidal flows of the Herring River at Cape Cod National Seashore. Acting as a carbon sink, wetlands can also play an important role in carbon sequestration, and NPF is currently partnering with USGS and ApexRMS on a wetlands modeling tool that will predict restoration-driven carbon impacts.
Rising sea levels, coral die-offs, marine debris, increased storm wave and wake energy, saltwater intrusion, ocean acidification, erosion – these are a few of the threats facing coastal national parks. At Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve and at Cumberland Island National Seashore, NPF is partnering with NPS, University of North Florida, and the Green Team Youth Corps at Groundwork Jacksonville to support an innovative approach to stabilizing eroding shorelines: using pervious oyster shell habitat reef ball structures. This will allow native marsh grasses to regrow and provide habitat for a variety of marine species.
Ecosystems are bigger than park boundaries and sometimes require multi-stakeholder approach in order to address critical landscape level issues. NPF is supporting a regional-wide response to the single most devastating event to hit Caribbean coral colonies: Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. This disease affects half of their coral species and can wipe out 400-year-old coral colonies in as little as three weeks without intervention. A task force of national park and inter-agency scientists, universities, non-profits, and volunteers are working together to better understand this disease and provide critical treatment to save coral colonies.