Expanding the use of natural and nature-based infrastructure to enhance coastal resiliency

Marcia Berman, Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Pamela Mason, Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Tamia Rudnicky, Virginia Institute of Marine Science


The vulnerability of coastal communities and the growing risks to coastal infrastructure continue largely due to past and ongoing patterns of development in high risk areas. This project is focused on increasing the use of natural and nature-based features (NNBFs) to increase resilience of coastal communities to flooding caused by extreme weather events. This project has proposed two efforts to increase understanding of NNBFS; 1) describe the current status, and 2) quantify role of NNBF creation/ restoration for water quality benefits in support of coastal resilience. The products of the 3-year project are intended to support informed coastal management decision-making regarding two concerns associated with NNBFs:

  • The natural capital of coastal communities is generally declining, and is projected to decline at an accelerating rate due to sea level rise and current land use practices.
  • The use of NNBFs to sustain or increase resilience in coastal communities is restricted by the many competing needs for limited local resources.