Expanded Collaboration with LCCs for Coastal Resilience

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Coastal Gulf of Maine.  Photo: M Staudinger, NE CSC/ USGS

Coastal Gulf of Maine. Photo: M Staudinger, NE CSC/ USGS

The NE CSC and the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NA LCC) are embarking on a new collaboration to synthesize information about climate change impacts on coastal habitats and species and to make this information easily accessible to local decision-makers as part of the Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool.

As part of the new project “Critical thresholds and ecosystem services for coastal ecological and human climate adaptation”, funding from NE CSC will help extend an ongoing multi-LCC coastal resilience effort currently being led by the NA LCC to coordinate, synthesize, and deliver coastal resilience information, activities, and lessons learned across the LCC network in the Atlantic, Gulf Coast, and Caribbean regions. The project, which began in August 2015, is a collaboration between the NA, South Atlantic, Gulf Coast Prairie, Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks, Peninsular Florida, and Caribbean LCCs, and has received oversight and input from coastal experts at the NE CSC, Southeast CSC, and South Central CSC. Emily Powell, a postdoctoral researcher on the project, has been leading the compilation and synthesis of threshold information about the impacts of sea level rise and storms on priority coastal habitats and species. In addition, Emily is summarizing restoration and management alternatives for increasing the persistence and resilience of coastal habitats and species and how these alternatives relate to natural and nature-based approaches to human community resilience.

Species-specific threshold information and adaptation strategies for coastal fish and wildlife will be displayed in the MA Climate Action Tool to help decision-makers identify and take actions that could help delay or preclude listing of coastal species in the face of sea level rise, storms, and other climate change threats. Additional information on existing and planned efforts to use natural and nature-based approaches to increase human and natural community resilience in the Northeast, with a specific eye towards sea level rise and storm surge buffering capacity, will also be made available.  This information will be especially useful to managers, planners, decision makers, and other stakeholders interested in managing natural resources under a changing climate.

The ongoing multi-LCC project has already developed synthesis products that are helping to bring coastal resilience information together in one place. A Species and Habitat Thresholds Table synthesizes threshold data for 44 fish, wildlife, and plant species of conservation concern, as well as four coastal habitats, in response to sea level rise and storm projections. The table provides a wealth of information formatted into an easy-to-use spreadsheet to give partners and stakeholders insight on decisions and tradeoffs regarding the management of coastal resources. In addition, a Coastal Resilience Resource List provides an inventory of the work being undertaken by LCCs, CSCs, and partner organizations to address coastal resilience issues in the Atlantic, Gulf, and Caribbean regions as a one-stop shopping list to support a growing coastal resilience network. The list includes completed, ongoing, and planned projects, reports, guidelines, programs, online support tools, and papers. This Resource List is also featured on the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, a national clearinghouse for scientific information developed to support climate resilience, and the Thresholds Table was a featured tool at the 2016 Gulf of Mexico Alliance All Hands Meeting Tools Café.

Review papers on species thresholds in response to sea level rise and storm projections and the integration of ecological and human community resilience planning are also anticipated products from this effort later this year (2016) and will be made available on the NA LCC and NE CSC websites.