Resilient Coastal Sites Toolkit

The Nature Conservancy

Created: 8/10/2022 - Updated: 9/14/2022

Overview

Coastal areas provide critical habitat for wildlife and are home to more than 40 percent of the U.S. population, but coastal sites vary widely in their ability to accommodate rising sea levels based on inherent natural features and the degree of human influence on key ecological processes.

Scientists from The Nature Conservancy evaluated over 12,000 coastal sites along the Atlantic Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico for their capacity to sustain biodiversity and natural services under increasing inundation from sea level rise. Each site received a resilience “score” based on the likelihood that its coastal habitats can and will migrate to adjacent lowlands. A coastal site was considered more resilient if it had more options for adapting to, or accommodating risk, and more vulnerable if it had less options. 

The products of these studies include, and are attached or linked below:

  • A report describing the methods used to evaluate sites and the results for each coastal shoreline region. 
  • A web tool allowing users to view and interact with the results for any coastal site.
  • A story map allowing users to explore a variety of coastal conservation strategies such as land acquisition, restoration, enhancing productivity, conserving biodiversity, and others.
  • Downloadable datasets including results for additional sea level rise scenarios.

Northeast

Scientists from The Nature Conservancy evaluated over 10,000 coastal sites in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic for their capacity to sustain biodiversity and natural services under increasing inundation from sea level.  Each site received a resilience “score” based on the likelihood that its coastal habitats can and will migrate to adjacent lowlands. The products of this study include: 

South Atlantic

Scientists from The Nature Conservancy evaluated over 1,200 coastal sites in the South Atlantic for their capacity to sustain biodiversity and natural services under increasing inundation from sea level. Each site received a resilience “score” based on the likelihood that its coastal habitats can and will migrate to adjacent lowlands. The products of this study include: 

Gulf of Mexico

Scientists from The Nature Conservancy evaluated over 1,500 coastal sites in the Gulf of Mexico for their capacity to sustain biodiversity and natural services under increasing inundation from sea level.  Each site received a resilience “score” based on the likelihood that its coastal habitats can and will migrate to adjacent lowlands. The products of this study include: 

Audience

The results can be used to aid conservation and adaptation managers to: 

  • Identify areas for protection, restoration, and/or management 
  • Develop effective strategies to sustain the natural benefits of coastal habitats
  • Understand the relative resilience or vulnerability of critical areas

Organization(s)

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.