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The Nature Conservancy and CH2M publish new guidance on coastal risk reduction

The Nature Conservancy and CH2M published guidance on how regions can integrate nature-based solutions that will withstand the test of time and climate change.

Facing rising sea levels and more frequent storms, the world’s coastal communities and infrastructure need long-lasting solutions. The Nature Conservancy and CH2M recently published guidance on how regions can integrate nature-based solutions that will withstand the test of time and climate change. 

Coastal Risk Reduction: Integrating Natural Defenses into a Sustainable Coastal Risk Management Framework” recommends that coastal regions develop strategic coastal resilience plans to reduce the environmental and socio-economic risks of coastal hazards in a sustainable manner. The document will assist communities and organizations responsible for coastal zone management to collaborate on plans that cross administrative boundaries, in recognition that nature does not recognize, or reflect, such boundaries.

This framework grew out of TNC’s and CH2M’s joint work on the Science for People and Nature (SNAP) Coastal Defenses project. Dr. Michael Beck, SNAP co-lead and TNC lead marine scientist, co-wrote the framework guidance with Nigel Pontee, CH2M’s global coastal technology leader. Beck explains that the purpose of the SNAP project and TNC’s partnership with CH2M is to “bring together ecologists, economists, and engineers to identify where, when, and how oyster reefs, coral reefs, wetlands, and mangroves can be effective in reducing risks and vulnerability for people.”

“CH2M has far more than just engineers. We have coastal scientists, ecologists, environmental scientists, planners, and stakeholder experts, and much of our work involves advising clients of the best way to manage coasts and improve resilience,” says Nigel Pontee. “To get to a good final plan, you have to look at all the options on the table. Coastal risk reduction planning should consider the full range of nonstructural, natural, nature-based, and structural options.”

A strategic coastal resilience plan promotes management approaches for a coastline into the 22nd century, often integrating natural and nature-based options such as wetlands, dunes, barrier islands, sea grass beds, and reefs with hard-engineered options such as seawalls, surge barriers, groins, sills, and levees. Using existing data sources and tools, TNC and CH2M incorporated existing approaches they have used to implement successful projects around the world.

Since 2005, The Nature Conservancy has worked with government agencies and communities to prepare for sea-level rises and storm surges and to understand the role natural habitats can play in reducing our risk from these threats. TNC and partners lead the Coastal Resilience Network, which supports practitioners around the world who are applying planning innovations to coastal hazard and adaptation issues.

CH2M has over 25 years of experience developing strategic plans for sustainable coastal risk management around the world.

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