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Identifying Resilient Sites for Coastal Conservation

TNC Coastal Resilient Sites

The Nature Conservancy's Hurricane Sandy project to identify resilient sites for coastal conservation.

The North Atlantic LCC and the Nature Conservancy have a cooperative agreement entitled Identifying Resilient Sites for Coastal Conservation under the North Atlantic LCC Decision Support for Hurricane Sandy Restoration and Future Conservation to Increase Resiliency of Tidal Wetland Habitats and Species in the Face of Storms and Sea Level Rise Hurricane Sandy project.

Climate change threatens to alter the ecology of coasts in the Northeastern US: it disrupts processes, enhances disturbance, rearranges or destroys habitat, and creates novel conditions for the fish and wildlife that inhabit the coastal zone. Although climate change affects the entire coastal region, some places have a higher natural resilience to change due to their physical properties (orientation, elevation, geology, topography, exposure, wave height, and area for marsh migration) and current condition (riverine sediment inputs, freshwater inflow, and the amount and connectedness of surrounding lands). These areas will likely support native species longer by offering more climatic options to current occupants and buffering them from some of the effects of the changing climate. It is important to identify, protect, and restore these natural strongholds as they will become increasingly important in sustaining natural diversity into the future. To map these resilient coastal lands, The Nature Conservancy is compiling and analyzing regional data on the factors highlighted above that influence a system’s vulnerability and response to climate change. These physical and condition attributes will be evaluated and integrated into a spatially-explicit dataset that estimates the resilience of coastal wetland sites relative to other wetland sites within a similar estuary type (e.g., the resilience of a riverine site will only be compared to that of other riverine sites). The resultant dataset is intended to help natural resource managers, conservationists, and others identify resilient lands for protection and restoration across the North Atlantic coast.

The estimated resilience dataset will be integrated into the NA LCC modeling framework for landscape conservation design by including relevant staff on the science steering committee and incorporating the final results into a 30 m cell model similar to the University of Massachusetts' index of ecological integrity. These contributions will significantly enhance the coastal relevance of this product.

A steering committee consisting of approximately 40 coastal professionals from government, NGO’s and academia has provided project guidance and review of proposed metrics, methods and datasets on three calls to date, and will continue to share their feedback on monthly to bi-monthly calls for the duration of the project.  The final products are due at the end of February 2017.

Hurricane Sandy Disaster Mitigation Funds

North Atlantic LCC Coastal zone

Slides, links to the recordings and notes from the first three calls are available for download at the following BOX link: https://tnc.box.com/s/th8w6n9fvqd1ro2ag0t2urxfbituyid0

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