Turning to Nature to Address Coastal Erosion

Superstorm Sandy dramatically impacted the coast of New Jersey. Not only did physical aspects of the shoreline change, but so did coastal communities. People started rethinking how coastal resources are managed. Using a grant from NOAA, The Nature Conservancy launched the New Jersey Resilient Coastlines Initiative, which includes a focus on nature-based solutions for addressing erosion and flooding.

Under this initiative various organizations and experts came together to solidify smart policies and obtain the tools, training, and information needed to make the region more resilient. The Restoration Explorer tool was developed to help communities find the right nature-based solutions, such as to bio-log living shorelines, restore oyster reefs or the beach, or whatever solution is best for each site’s particular needs.

Another positive development from this initiative is the community resource guide, which explores potential and existing living shoreline projects within 19 coastal communities. A “future habitat” application was also created to help people visualize areas of salt marsh most likely to succumb to sea level rise by 2050, which is useful to know when prioritizing marsh restoration and enhancement efforts.

During the outreach phase, more than one community member said without this information they would have moved forward with a bulkhead, which, at this point in time, is easier and quicker to design and permit in New Jersey. Demonstrating the impact of a living shoreline, and providing communities with helpful information about this topic, is increasing positive perceptions and making nature-based solutions more likely.

Partners: American Littoral Society, Barnegat Bay Partnership, NOAA, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Rutgers University, Stevens Institute of Technology, The Nature Conservancy