By Katrina Radach, Washington Sea Grant State Fellow at The Nature Conservancy.
Between May 27th to May 31st in Lisbon, Portugal, 1,200 people around the world came together to discuss climate change adaptations. One major discussion throughout this conference was how communities adapt to climate change in regards to coastal hazards. In Lisbon, where the sun-kissed beaches and tourism are major economic industries for its communities, they are facing challenges of coastal erosion, extreme storms, and sea level rise. Sounds familiar right?
One of the largest economic industry for the community – beaches.
Many of our Washington communities are facing similar threats. I was privileged enough to have a discussion with conference attendees and local Lisbon leaders on how CHRN is addressing coastal hazards. People were excited to see similar approaches such as case studies, maps, collaborations, updated projections, and community discussions between Lisbon and Washington projects. However, we all are facing the major questions of what to do next and what will be successful in our communities.
One of the largest projects a Lisbon community has taken on is dune nourishment. The intense winter storms along Lisbon’s beaches can take away 15 m in a single storm. However, with restaurants, homes, and the major tourism for the beaches, losing 15 m of beach at a time is a major threat to the local community. In the past couple of years, the local communities have worked with their governances to take on a dune nourishment project. One of the major requests by the community was to have nature-based-solutions. Hard shoreline armoring not only looks aesthetically unappealing to tourists but also they are looking for long terms solutions and do not want to be at a constant battle with the ocean and weather. They have been planting over 10,000 native plants to stabilize the dunes, adding fences, adding pathways to the beach to reduce foot traffic over the plants/dunes, and doing artificial sand nourishment every year. After two years of successful nourishment efforts, they are looking into expanding their efforts in the upcoming years.
Previous attempts to address coastal erosion along the beaches.
Coming back to Washington, I’ve been inspired by the progress Lisbon’s communities have taken towards coastal erosion, community efforts, and the challenge to not only address our own Washington coastal hazards but to share our struggles and successes with communities around the world. We are all working towards thriving and adapting communities.
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