Coastlines, Climate Change, and Conservation Planning
From Seattle to San Diego, from Boston to Miami to Houston, more than half of Americans live, work and play within 50 miles of an ocean coastline. With sea levels rising and an increase in hurricanes and other major storm events, coastal-zone planning has never been more important.
Thanks to grants from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, this important issue is being confronted head on by the Coastal Marine Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) Tools Network, an alliance of EBM practitioners and tool providers coordinated by NatureServe. EBM is an innovative management approach that considers entire ecosystems, including humans and the environment, rather than managing one issue or resource in isolation.
The Foundation recently funded pilot projects to develop and demonstrate the effectiveness of EBM strategies. NatureServe Vista, NatureServe’s conservation planning software, has been integrated into two of the pilot projects: in Aransas County on the Texas coast, and in the Charleston, South Carolina, region. NatureServe Vista is being used to assess the potential impacts of climate change on the ecology of the regions, including land use, natural hazards, and proposed hazard mitigations. Initial results demonstrate the significant potential of these tools and approaches to assist planners in collaborative work that spans the land-sea divide.
Major storms in recent years have highlighted the vulnerability of both the human and wildlife populations along our more than 12,000 miles of coastline. As the effects of climate change continue to affect these coastal areas, NatureServe will continue to provide the science and technology that supports proactive and effective conservation planning.