SNAPP TEAM:Coastal Restoration
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How can coastal habitat restoration efforts be better aligned with nature conservation and the provision of societal benefits?

Healthy coastal habitats are critical to the health of people and the planet. However, reefs, marshes and coastal forests around the world have been highly degraded and reduced to a small fraction of their historic extent. In order for governmental agencies to make informed decisions regarding coastal restoration, they must first understand what policies and projects have already been implemented.


OUR APPROACH: The Coastal Restoration team is compiling a database of all restoration projects conducted by major agencies and entities, including the NOAA Restoration Center, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, US EPA, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. By synthesizing these data, the team can identify opportunities for future projects to build upon past restoration efforts for the most benefit to coastal ecosystems and communities.

Team Status: COMPLETED
Team Critical Challenge:

Voluntary Coastal Wetland Restoration 2006–2015

The team calculated palustrine and estuarine wetland change in U.S. coastal shoreline counties. There were 748 estuarine wetland restoration projects awarded and 598 palustrine wetland restoration projects awarded. Restoration activities included, but were not limited to, vegetation planting, invasive species removal, prescribed burn, hydrologic reconnection, sediment stabilization/redistribution, and debris/pollutant removal. On average, estuarine and palustrine wetlands restoration projects were completed within 5 years of being awarded.

Investing in Natural and Nature Based Infrastructure (NNBI)  

The team concluded that investing in Natural and Nature Based Infrastructure (NNBI) designs are more resilient to disasters, and provide greater protection to coastal communities, while also being cheaper to maintain over the long term. Studies show that wetlands have saved more than $625 million in avoided flooding damages and communities behind marshes experiences 20% less property loss during Hurricane Sandy. NNBI is more cost effective than traditional built infrastructure as well as provides new opportunities for stakeholder engagement, and benefits business, communities, and the environment. 


“The federal agencies and organizations that support coastal habitat restoration in the U.S. restored nearly a million acres between 2006 and 2015. Hotspots are locations where political support, significant investment, and a clear science-based recovery plan are galvanizing efforts to restore ecosystem functioning.”

–Jon Grabowski

Key Products
Investing in Natural and Nature-Based Infrastructure: Building Better Along Our Coasts

In this perspective piece in Sustainability, the authors present benefits, opportunities, and challenges associated with building nature-based infrastructure.

Voluntary Restoration: Mitigation’s Silent Partner in the Quest to Reverse Coastal Wetland Loss in the USA

In this piece from Frontiers, continuous voluntary restoration is necessary to see a positive change in coastal ecosystems under pressure from a vast array of anthropogenic stressors.

Societal Factors Key to Landscape-Scale Coastal Restoration: Lessons Learned from Three U.S. Case Studies

In this article, the authors discuss four elements of maintaining support for large-scale restoration projects calling on three case studies.

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Bryan DeAngelis
The Nature Conservancy
Katie Arkema
Stanford University
Jonathan Grabowski
Northeastern University
Allison Colden
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Alyssa Dausman
The Water Institute of the Gulf
Ariana Sutton-Grier
The Nature Conservancy
Jeff Benoit
Restore America’s Estuaries
Jessica Henkel
Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council
Kelly Burks-Copes
US Army Corps of Engineers
Rachel Gittman
East Carolina University
Randall Hughes
Northeastern University
Rick Bennett
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Ron Howard
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Seth Blitch
The Nature Conservancy
Steven Scyphers
Northeastern University
Tisa Shostik
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Tony Chatwin
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
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