Protecting habitats: New York -New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program. Collaborative planning and scientific information

Lynn Ann Mandarano, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation is a critical review of the habitat protection program of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program (Harbor Estuary Program), one of 28 estuary programs in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Estuary Program. The National Estuary Program is a novel environmental management program: it defines its study areas based on ecological criteria and it encourages regional collaborative planning among government, scientific and public interests. Despite this significance, scholars have yet to evaluate the program beyond its planning phase. This case study of the Habitat Workgroup, one of several workgroups in the Harbor Estuary Program, evaluates its habitat protection program within the context of the Harbor Estuary Program's collaborative management framework using a new approach enhancing the assessment of collaborative process outcomes. Data gathered from elite interviews and primary document review allowed the reconstruction and evaluation of the Habitat Workgroup's history, initiatives, accomplishments and collaborative process. Responses to an elite sample survey afforded a network analysis of the elite sample's communication patterns and changes over time attributable to the Habitat Workgroup's collaborative forum. Results demonstrate that the regional and collaborative frameworks of the Harbor Estuary Program made significant contributions to its habitat protection program for the estuarine ecosystem. First, the Harbor Estuary Program's study area encouraged an ecosystem perspective for its habitat characterization study. Second, the fact that the habitat study was commissioned by a collaborative effort of government, scientific and public interest organizations depoliticized its findings, which the regional community accepted as evidence of the area's habitat value. Third, the collaborative framework provided the Habitat Workgroup with enhanced access to organizations with competing interests and enabled building new alliances. Fourth, the Habitat Workgroup's collaborative forum developed innovative programs to protect wetlands and coastal habitats. The case study demonstrates the value of employing a pragmatic approach to evaluate collaborative planning outcomes and of applying network analyses to elucidate the relationships the bind participants together in a collaborative process. The findings contribute to the literature on and practice of habitat conservation planning, collaborative planning and the National Estuary Program.

Subject Area

Urban planning|Area planning & development

Recommended Citation

Mandarano, Lynn Ann, "Protecting habitats: New York -New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program. Collaborative planning and scientific information" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3125866.