Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM)
This project is an extension of earlier efforts within the coastal zone of Virginia to build a platform for enhanced Blue and Green Infrastructure planning. This project is motivated by an interest in extending statewide conservation efforts into estuarine systems and recognition that land use decisions on the upland effect water quality and habitat health in the receiving waters. The project in its entirety has been accomplished in distinct parts. Part one develops a Cumulative Resource Assessment to evaluate the distribution of aquatic natural resources within waters of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay waters, Back Bay of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and the seaside of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. This task mined data resources at all levels of government to bring together a comprehensive representation of information available for the study areas. The outcome of the CRA would indicate where the maximum number of resources co-exists, but not necessarily where the most important resources exist. The second part of the project develops a process to prioritize the most ecologically valuable regions within Virginia tidal waters. Using the data output from the CRA, an Aquatic Priority Conservation Area (APCA) analysis was developed which ranks individual resources based on potential to provide important ecosystem services. A weighting function was applied and zones of good, very high, and exceptional habitat value were designated. Phase three of the project reviewed priority conservation areas (PCAs) designated on the upland and modeled spatial relationships between terrestrial PCAs and Aquatic PCAs. Linkages established between the two could potentially elevate areas on the upland for conservation due to the geo-spatial relationship to important aquatic areas. The analysis only focused on the highest valued conservation areas within both datasets. Finally where data was available and could support an analysis of climate change impacts, the APCA output was assessed for areas vulnerable to sea level rise impacts. The results of the analysis, which focused only within the Chesapeake Bay portion of Virginia, could indicate where APCA were unlikely to be sustained as a result of long-term impacts of rising water levels. The analysis used climate change vulnerability data derived for wetlands and beach environments as the indicator and identified APCAs adjacent to or coincident with these locations.
Conservation, Green Infrastructure, Blue Infrastructure, Urban Planning, Environmental Management
This project was funded in part by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Department of Environmental Quality through Grant # NA08NOS4190466, Task 11.03 of the United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended.
Center for Coastal Resources Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science. (2010) Estuarine Blue Infrastructure: Final Priority Conservation Areas for Chesapeake Bay and its Tidal Tributaries and Back Bay – Version 2.0 (Revised 09/2010). Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary. https://publish.wm.edu/reports/516