Protection and restoration of coastal habitats yield multiple benefits for urban residents as sea levels rise

Gueryy, A.D. et al. | npj Urban Sustainability | 2022 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


Globally, rising seas threaten massive numbers of people and significant infrastructure. Adaptation strategies increasingly incorporate nature-based solutions. New science can illuminate where these solutions are appropriate in urban environments and what benefits they provide to people. Together with stakeholders in San Mateo County, California, USA, we co-developed nature-based solutions to support adaptation planning. We created six guiding principles to shape planning, summarized vulnerability to sea-level rise and opportunities for nature-based solutions, created three adaptation scenarios, and compared multiple benefits provided by each scenario. Adaptation scenarios that included investments in nature-based solutions deliver up to eight times the benefits of a traditionally engineered baseline as well as additional habitat for key species. The magnitude and distribution of benefits varied at subregional scales along the coastline. Our results demonstrate practical tools and engagement approaches to assessing the multiple benefits of nature-based solutions in an urban estuary that can be replicated in other regions.