Measure

How do we know we are successful?

Measuring the success of our conservation and restoration efforts must be tackled on a project-by-project basis. Coastal Resilience takes a multi-faceted science approach to designing local projects on the ground as well as global indicators of success. At the individual project level we measure benefits such as fish production, coastal erosion reduction and job creation.

As a prime example of this, The Nature Conservancy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been working together since 2001 through a National Partnership to restore a diversity of habitats in our nation’s coastal waters. This Partnership is captured in a handbook called Restoration Works. With more than 120 projects that have been implemented along the coast and waterways of the United States, these projects have yielded tangible, lasting improvements to oyster reefs and clam beds, underwater grasses, salt marshes, mangroves, coral reefs, and other important habitats that provide valuable benefits to coastal communities.

A Conservancy volunteer examines a clam while collecting Eelgrass (seagrass) in the shallow coastal waters of Virginia’s Delmarva Peninsula. in a massive effort to restore eelgrass beds in the coastal bays of The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve. The Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR) is comprised of 14 undeveloped barrier islands, thousands of acres of pristine salt marshes, vast tidal mudflats, shallow bays, and productive forested uplands. Situated at the lower end of the Delmarva Peninsula, VCR is one of the most important migratory bird stopover sites on Earth. Photo credit: Mark Godfrey/TNC

A Conservancy volunteer examines a clam while collecting Eelgrass (seagrass) in the shallow coastal waters of Virginia’s Delmarva Peninsula. in a massive effort to restore eelgrass beds in the coastal bays of The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve. The Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR) is comprised of 14 undeveloped barrier islands, thousands of acres of pristine salt marshes, vast tidal mudflats, shallow bays, and productive forested uplands. Situated at the lower end of the Delmarva Peninsula, VCR is one of the most important migratory bird stopover sites on Earth. Photo credit: Mark Godfrey/The Nature Conservancy

Further, we assess success in wave attenuation and erosion reduction through the conservation and restoration of coastal habitats as natural defenses to storm surge and sea level rise. See the example below and visit our Resources page for specific project details.

Coral Reefs: Critical for Risk Reduction & Adaptation

Stronger storms, rising seas, and flooding are placing hundreds of millions people at risk around the world, and big part of the solution to decrease those risks is just off shore.

A new study in Nature Communications by an international team of researchers from the University of Bologna, The Nature Conservancy, U. S. Geological Survey, Stanford University and University of California – Santa Cruz, provides the first global synthesis of the contributions of coral reefs to risk reduction and adaptation across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. The study shows that coral reefs provide risk reduction benefits to hundreds of millions of coastal inhabitants around the world.

Key results from the study:

  • Coral reefs provide substantial protection against natural hazards by reducing wave energy by an average of 97 percent (studies across all tropical oceans).
  • The reef crest, or shallowest part of the reef where the waves break first, dissipates 86 percent of wave energy on its own.
  • The median cost for building artificial breakwaters is USD $19,791 per meter, compared to $1,290 per meter for coral reef restoration projects.

World Risk Report 2012

Environmental degradation is a significant factor that reduces the capacity of societies to deal with disaster risk in many countries around the world. This is the key message of the World Risk Report 2012, presented October 11th in Brussels, Belgium by the German Alliance for Development Works (Alliance), United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and The Nature Conservancy.

The World Risk Report examines who is at risk from natural disasters, what contributes to this risk and what can be done about it. The record for the decade 2002 to 2011 is alarming: 4,130 disasters, more than a million deaths and an economic loss of at least 1.195 trillion dollars.

The centerpiece of the report, the World Risk Index, developed by UNU-EHS in cooperation with the Alliance, determines the risk of becoming the victim of a disaster as a result of natural hazards for 173 countries throughout the world.

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Also see our Coasts at Risk assessment of 2014 that includes other global indicators of risk and the role of environmental solutions. This can be found under Reports and Publications in our Resources section.