Lead Institutions: University of Maine, University of New Hampshire
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Led by the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire, the New England SusTainability Consortium (NEST) is a regional research partnership focused on strengthening the scientific basis for decision-making regarding the management of coupled coastal systems. NEST will mobilize cutting-edge theory and methods from the emerging field of sustainability science and a range of disciplines to tackle problems related to the closure of shellfish beds and posting of beach advisories due to high levels of pathogenic bacteria in coastal regions. Given that the estimated annual value of coastal recreation amounts to as much as $20 billion nationally and $400 million in ME and NH, these coastal closures represent a significant sustainability problem with complex and interacting economic, social and environmental dimensions.
Using the Gulf of Maine as a laboratory for investigating interactions between coupled natural and human systems, NEST’s interdisciplinary team of natural scientists, social scientists and engineers will investigate: 1) how natural processes and human activities in coastal waters and watersheds influence bacterial dynamics; 2) the reciprocal interactions between such scientific knowledge and the processes that influence closure decisions; and 3) the potential role of social feedback processes in reducing the frequency and magnitude of closures. Building on a tradition of durable partnerships with diverse stakeholders, UMaine and UNH researchers will collaborate with all levels of government, the private sector, tribal communities, non-governmental organizations, and citizen scientists. In addition to helping understand and solve problems involving coastal closures, NEST will expand New England’s collective research capacity to conduct solutions-focused research on other sustainability problems and help train a highly skilled 21st century STEM workforce.
NEST is a program of the Sustainability Solutions Initiative based at the Senator George J. Mitchell Center at the University of Maine.
Academic research partners for NEST in Maine include:
Academic research partners for NEST In New Hampshire include:
Supported by National Science Foundation award IIA-1330691 to Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine.
Image Description: tidal pool