Ecosystem Health Report Card for the Texas Coast
The 2023 Texas Coast Ecosystem Health Report Cards were created from a collaborative effort to describe the health of the marine and coastal ecosystems that sustain coastal communities.
The Texas coast supports vibrant coastal communities and an ocean economy valued at more than $80 billion. Texas’ coastal ecosystems are home to diverse habitats that provide food and shelter for wildlife, remove pollutants from the water, protect shorelines and communities from storms, and capture and store vast amounts of carbon. The Texas Coast Ecosystem Health Report Card series is a science-based, collaborative effort that provides a snapshot of coastal ecosystem health to guide decision making for conservation and restoration.
The 2023 Texas Coast Ecosystem Health Report Card and the accompanying regional Report Cards represent vital prioritization and planning tools for coastal restoration in Texas, with particular utility for projects in the Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan.
Through dedicated, proactive measures to expand monitoring and address stressors before they reach critical levels, as well as efforts to restore declining wildlife populations and lost habitat, Texas has an opportunity to achieve something that is rarely seen these days—a balance between socioeconomic and environmental needs that leads to healthy ecosystems and prosperous coastal communities.
In 2019, HRI published the first Texas Coast Ecosystem Health Report Card that assessed regional coastal systems based on 5 indicators: oysters, seagrasses, fisheries, birds, and water quality. With Project of Special Merit Funding from the Texas General Land Office, work began in 2021 to select and evaluate additional ecosystem indicators that would provide a holistic assessment of the condition of Texas’ coastal ecosystems and the communities that rely on them.
HRI aims to produce the coastwide Report Card on a regular two-year cycle so that trends can be identified and quantified over time. Through partnerships with scientists, governments, non-governmental organizations, and local communities, HRI is also leading in a tri-national effort to assess the health of coastal and marine ecosystems throughout the Gulf of Mexico.