This is the question ESSA’s team, led by Dr. Cedar Morton, set out to answer in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation, the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative, and CBCL. We worked with two pilot communities, each with very different coastlines – the Town of Gibsons in British Columbia, and Pointe-du-Chêne in New Brunswick – to develop a model that communities can use as a first-pass assessment of coastal protection benefits supplied by natural assets like nearshore vegetation and sand dunes. The Coastal Toolbox we developed is a model implemented in ArcGIS Pro that adapts and builds upon prior work by Dr. Greg Guannel and Stanford University’s Natural Capital Project and as part of the open source InVEST toolkit for evaluating ecosystem services. We found that natural assets can provide flood and erosion protection, particularly against more frequent but less extreme storm events. Cumulatively over a 100-year time horizon, the economic benefits from this lower level of protection can be significant, while also providing co-benefits like habitat and aesthetic appeal.
You can view the two pilot studies here.
If your community is interested in using the Coastal Toolbox, please contact MNAI.