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Nature-based Solutions for a Climate Ready Southern Maine

Nature-based Solution Installation
Installing a nature-based solution in Casco Bay. Photo: Tom Bell, Greater Portland Council of Governments, from the Resilience in the Eastern Bay StoryMap.


Southern Maine coastal communities are on the front lines of climate change and already experience damage and disruptions from intensifying coastal storms and rising seas. Significant work during the past decade has helped managers to better understand, assess, and plan for the impacts of coastal climate change. Several recent and on-going regional planning efforts, including Climate Ready CoastSouthern Maine have sought to identify strategies and solutions for protecting people, property, and the environment from coastal climate hazards.

While these efforts have recommended nature-based solutions broadly, managers lack vital information and guidance about where and what type of solution might be most appropriate for specific locations and coastline characteristics within the region. For example, not all areas of the coastline are suitable for certain types of nature-based solutions; not all sites where marshes exist can support marsh migration, nor are all sites appropriate for living shorelines. Site-specific conditions (exposure to waves and tides, slope, and adjacent land use, for example) will dictate the appropriateness of these strategies and should be evaluated to aid communities in planning for coastal adaptation.

Project partners recognize that traditional ecological knowledge, local knowledge, and cultural information are vital components of coastal management and should be considered explicitly when developing, designing, and implementing coastal adaptation projects, including nature-based solutions. While some guidance and best practices address integration of traditional, local, and cultural knowledge in coastal management, more can be done to understand the history and context of Indigenous Peoples and how this topic can be integrated and supported in our community of practice.

Project Outputs

Project Activities

  1. GIS-based suitability analysis and mapping exercise for the ten southern coastal communities from Kittery to Scarborough
  2. Conceptual nature-based solution designs for priority locations in three coastal geomorphic settings (beach/dune, back barrier marsh/estuary, coastal bluff)
  3. Place-based lessons learned for incorporating local, indigenous, and traditional knowledge into the design of nature-based coastal resilience projects
  4. Place-based community of practice through listening sessions
  5. Culminating workshop for municipal officials, committee members, community members, and regional stakeholders

Project Partners

  • Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission
  • York County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Wells Reserve


February 2023 to January 2025

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