A Natural Approach to Restoring Coastal Resilience

National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara shares updates on NWF’s coastal resilience efforts employing nature-based solutions.

  • Collin O’Mara President & CEO of the National Wildlife Federation
  • Conservation
  • Jul 04, 2023

One sign of a healthy wetland ecosystem is a robust bird presence, including species such as the great egret and white ibis, among others, seen here feeding in the Florida Everglades.

WITH SUMMER UPON US, families across the United States are immersing themselves in nature. As you read this, Krish and I are probably out hiking, camping, fishing or swimming with our daughters somewhere in Delaware or across the country.

Summer also brings the realities of hurricane season into sharp relief for families, like mine, who enjoy our oceans, beaches and coastal communities. As I first experienced with Hurricane Sandy, the severity and cost of hurricane events are increasing, and many communities are still reeling from past disasters. Even in areas that have been spared direct storm impacts, increased tidal flooding, erosion from sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion are disrupting daily life and threatening infrastructure. For much of our coastline, climate change isn’t a future risk. It has arrived and is forcing real-time innovation.

In the halls of Congress and coast to coast, the National Wildlife Federation and our affiliates are supporting coastal communities in building resilience. Science shows that adopting climate-smart policies and nature-based solutions reduces flooding and storm surge while safeguarding clean water, wildlife habitat and quality-of-life improvements.

In Louisiana, the Federation is advancing wetland restoration projects that protect vulnerable neighborhoods in and around New Orleans. In Massachusetts, we’re actively engaged in the planning and restoration of New England’s largest contiguous saltmarsh habitat, and we’re supporting the recovery of once abundant eelgrass beds. In the mid-Atlantic, we’re working with scientists to develop a novel approach to restoring oyster habitat, and we’re collaborating with a Maryland town on a plan to alleviate tidal flooding, in part through living shorelines. In Texas, our scientists are helping communities assess vulnerability and leverage nature—from native plants to coastal wetlands—as an ally. And that’s just a sliver of our coastal resilience efforts.

As leaders in climate adaptation, our team prioritizes critical support for historically under-resourced communities—often the most vulnerable in facing disasters and the least likely to be made whole after. We’re also producing tools that can support communities nationwide, including planning guidance and other resources for local and federal leaders alike. Learn more at fundingnaturebasedsolutions.nwf.org.

Investing in nature-based solutions will help protect people and wildlife from the worst climate impacts while ensuring that families can continue to enjoy all the summer fun our coasts have to offer.

Share Your Views.

Follow Collin O’Mara on Twitter @Collin_OMara. To share your thoughts and opinions, email president@nwf.org.

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