Barrier Islands in North Carolina | Credit: iStock

There are a ton of coastal resilience assessments going on lately in the South Atlantic. There are two regional ones in particular that I get a lot of questions about: one by the Nature Conservancy and one by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Both are developing helpful new information. Despite having the same name, there’s actually a pretty big difference between the two. The key question is: resilience for what?

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Coastal Resilience: For this assessment, the resilience is really about people and human communities. Where are high value conservation areas now where conservation actions could improve resilience for human communities? This fits with the most common use of the term “coastal resilience”: nature-based solutions to benefit human communities.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Coastal Resilience: The big difference with this assessment is that the focus is on biodiversity and conservation. Where are places that can best sustain biodiversity and natural services under increasing sea-level rise? It’s designed to connect in with the terrestrial resilience assessment that’s being used as an indicator in the South Atlantic Blueprint. This coastal resilience assessment started fairly recently so many of you wont be seeing results for another year or so.

There are lots of smaller differences, but those are the major ones. The good news is that results from each of these assessments can complement each other nicely. Integrating the two can provide a broader portfolio of places and actions that could sustain both people and biodiversity in the face of sea-level rise.