Restoration Explorer

Shorelines are threatened by climate change, habitat degradation, and rising sea levels, and local governance is grappling with how to best assess and approach these changes and the danger change represents to communities. The Restoration Explorer website app, developed in 2010 by The Nature Conservancy as part of their Coastal Resiliency project, allows state and municipal governments to visualize and learn about recommended potential living shorelines techniques to best protect their environment and community. The tool is specifically made to be used by city planners, with a set of ecological parameters, such as salinity, proximity to salt marshes, or relationship to strategic habitat areas, and socio-economic parameters, like Shoreline Erosion, Water Quality, and Public Accessibility. Officials give different weighted scores to each of these different parameters and then possible restoration techniques are proposed with an accompanying score that reflects the weighted value given to the socio-economic and ecological parameters. Essentially, Restoration Explorer is a way to not only see the restoration options available to planners but allows for values to be integrated into decision making and assessment. Possible solutions include beach restoration, installing living reef or artificial breakwaters, and march shills. The project started in 2010 after the Deepwater Horizon Spill off the coast of Alabama and has been expanded to use in North Carolina and New Jersey. In Alabama, Restoration Explorer was used to support grant and permit applications for oyster reef restoration, with the ultimate goal of building 100 miles of oyster reef breakwaters to bolster coastal health and resilience to future spills. Detailed coastal raster data, as well as data on the species and possible future projections for sea-level rise and habitat loss, have to be collected, so it could be some time before this tool is made widely available to more coastal states. The Nature Conservancy is aware of this limitation, as well as the need for planners to still conduct site visits and not entirely depend on the validity of the data provided on the web browser. However, this application is not only a leap forward in terms of its ability to clearly lay out specific coastal resilience projects, but in coastal resilience planning as a whole.


Biodiversity, Data, Ecological Modelling, Lifestyle, Regulation