Coastal Flooding & Solutions, Workshop Case Studies

Coastal Resilience on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Location: Nation-wide, example for Virginia

Submitted By: Susan Bates - The Nature Conservancy - Virginia Coast Reserve, Coastal Science Program Manager

Project URLs:

Project Description

Coastal Resilience (CR) is a program led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to examine nature’s role in reducing coastal flood risk. The program includes a web mapping tool designed to help communities understand their vulnerability from coastal hazards, reduce their risk and determine the value of nature-based solutions. At the Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR), the CR project involves stakeholder engagement, a Coastal Resilience Planning Tool (CR Tool) customized for the Virginia Eastern Shore, and demonstration/implementation of nature-based solutions. Creation of the tool was made possible due to the decades of data collected through the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project. The work to build the CR Tool began in 2014 with a series of stakeholder workshops. Over 40 community leaders from local, state, and federal government and non-government agencies as well as leaders in the local communities gave input to help customize the CR Tool specifically to the needs of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The CR Tool consists of five applications: Coastline Change: Historical Data, Coastline Change: Future Scenarios, Flood and Sea Level Rise, Future Habitat, and a Living Shoreline Explorer that includes a Marsh Vulnerability Index. It incorporates observational data, data from computational models, and socio-economic information. The novelty of this tool is that it enables identification of nature-based solutions like oyster and wetland restoration to mitigate risk and enhance resilience. Through a collaborative effort with TNC’s partners, a total of five oyster reefs have been restored and more are underway. These are used to demonstrate and quantify how natural infrastructure can dampen wave energy and mitigate coastal erosion. The CR Tool has been used by local governments, including the planning district, for their hazard mitigation and planning documents and by home buyers or owners to determine the hazards for a particular property.

Key Successes

Brought research team together on a focused project, coastal resilience tool created and being used, associating wave attenuation with nature-based solutions, enhanced TNC connection with the community


Shorter term prediction; ability to model less severe storms, storms with greater return value, and nuisance flooding; barrier island dynamics; ecosystem/habitat effects; keeping the community engaged, tool has to remain relevant

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