Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16While most people would agree that we need to be more sophisticated in our conserva- tion and land use planning decisions, it has been a long and difficult journey to reach the point where it is possible to adequately represent a broad range of ecosystem values in comparing alternatives. Recent advances in natural resource economics, landscape ecology, geographic information systems, and watershed modeling have made it possible to quan- tify and compare many of the market and non-market trade-offs associated with differing future development scenarios. A handful of recent projects—such as Philadelphia’s green infrastructure approach to addressing water pollution—have capitalized on this interdisci- plinary approach and provide valuable examples of improved decision making. The chal- lenge now is to reduce the cost and complexity of these analytic approaches to the point where they can be broadly deployed. CLIMATE CHANGE AND COASTAL COMMUNITIES Climate change underscores the need for a green infrastructure-based approach to conserva- tion planning. Coastlines around the world will be dramatically reshaped by sea level rise. Processes that have been set in motion by a warming planet, such as thermal expansion of sea water and melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, will continue to unfold for cen- turies to come. In the immediate future, sea level rise will continue to exacerbate vulnerability to storm surge flooding by providing a higher launch point for coastal storms. The Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the U.S.are particularly vulnerable due to a mix of factors including ocean currents that are exacerbating sea level rise rates and subsidence of the land in many locations. In addition to the threats posed by sea level rise, coastal communities also face challenges posed by changing precipitation patterns. The eastern U.S. is getting wetter over time, with annual precipitation increasing along with the prevalence of heavy downpours. This com- bination is increasing flooding and nonpoint source water pollution in urban watersheds. These changes are driving a difficult set of decisions in the coastal zone. High-value waterfront real estate—a mainstay of the tax base in many communities—will become a lia- bility as flooding and erosion take a toll on buildings and infrastructure. Communities will be called upon to determine the feasibility of maintaining roads, utilities, and services such as fire and rescue. While there are no easy solutions for communities where existing devel- opment and infrastructure are in harm’s way, decisions on new development and redevelop- ment can either move communities in the direction of resiliency or further in the direction of increasing vulnerability, risk, and expense. Land use decisions made over the next 25 years will have a strong bearing on the long-term cost and liability that coastal communities face. INTERDISCIPLINARY TEAMWORK AND THE TAUNTON WATERSHED PROJECT Manomet is currently working with an interdisciplinary team in the Taunton River water- shed in southeastern Massachusetts. The project is dedicated to making holistic green infrastructure approaches available to local land managers. The watershed presents several opportunities to demonstrate the value of strategic conser- vation and land use decision making. The natural resource base within the watershed is still substantially intact, providing an opportunity to emphasize protection of high value resourc- es rather than costly ecological restoration. Over 60% of the watershed is undeveloped but only 15% of the land is protected. The watershed is rich in species diversity with more than 154 species of birds, 29 native species of fish, and is part of the region’s largest herring run. Secondly, the watershed is highly vulnerable to climate-related threats, primarily a combination of freshwater and storm surge flooding. The mix of increasing prevalence of heavy downpours, increasing annual precipitation, and rising sea level will be problematic for citizens of the watershed and will be a significant stressor of natural systems. Thirdly, most of the localities in the watershed face significant limitations in their abil- ity to fund new infrastructure projects, a situation that highlights the need for strategic planning to maximize benefits and limit costs. The Taunton watershed contains one of the highest concentrations of environmental justice communities of any region in Massachusetts, a factor that underscores the need to emphasize linkages between quality of life and ecological integrity in community planning. GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE: A network of waterways, wetlands, woodlands, wildlife habitats, and other natural areas that support native species, maintain natural ecological processes, sustain air and water resources, and contribute to health and quality of life. (McDonald, Benedict and O’Conner, 2005). MAP 1: LOCATION OF TAUNTON WATERSHED 4 | Manomet Partnerships for Sustainability • Fall / Winter 2016-17