What is shoreline habitat and why is it important?
Shoreline habitats are unique areas greatly influenced by tidal patterns, neighboring estuaries and wetlands, and human uses. Each shoreline habitat supports a great diversity of life. While many of the habitats thrive, some of them require our attention so that we can monitor our human impact, and not negatively affect the abundance of life in these areas.
ShoreZone is a systematic, structured way to measure and map shorelines.
How is shoreline habitat monitored?
PRPA has worked with key partners to document existing shoreline habitats around Prince Rupert, the Tsimshian peninsula and the Skeena River using very high-resolution aerial imagery. The photographs and videos of hundreds of kilometres of shoreline were taken while flying several hundred feet over the ground, and spatially referenced by a global positioning system so that accurate latitude and longitude information can be determined for any location in the photo. Lastly, the images are stitched together to create a coastal survey map.
This program will be repeated on a cycle subject to the amount of change that is caused by human or natural forces.
In addition to monitoring, this information can also be critical for response to natural and manmade disasters. The data in these photos can provide emergency and coastal managers with information needed to assess damage, but also to develop recovery strategies, facilitate search and rescue efforts, and identify hazards to navigation and hazardous material spills.
The ShoreZone Imaging Survey was funded by the Prince Rupert Port Authority, Pacific Northwest LNG, Aurora LNG, the Gitxaala Nation, the Metlakatla First Nation, the Nisga'a First Nation, as well as BC Ministry of Environment.
What determines a threat to shoreline habitat?
Changes in the shape of the shoreline can be analyzed by measuring differences in past and present shoreline locations. By looking at this information over a period of time, we can determine where and how fast shoreline and habitat is changing, which can help with planning for the future. Shoreline change is a prime indicator of coastal environmental resource threat, as these changes can drive the alteration of natural habitats.