A Collaborative Model for Coastal Restoration

By Caitlin Tran

Texas, a state known for its resilience, finds itself at the forefront of a pressing challenge – the impact of natural disasters. A recent 2023 study by WalletHub revealed that Texas ranks third in the nation for states most impacted by natural disasters over the past four decades. From 1980–2023, Texas recorded the most weather/climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each, totaling over $300 billion in overall damages/costs. As natural disasters and storms become more frequent and more severe, coastal restoration emerges as a critical nature-based solution for storm surge protection, erosion control, and ecological balance. 

Coastal Restoration Benefits are More than Ecological

Unchecked coastal land degradation1 poses myriad risks that extend beyond environmental concerns, directly impacting the people, prosperity, and natural resources of Texas. One of the most immediate threats is the heightened vulnerability to storm surges and erosion, amplified by the degradation of natural protective barriers. This puts coastal communities at an increased risk of property damage and displacement. Moreover, the degradation of the Chenier Plain, a critical ecosystem in Southeast Texas, jeopardizes the prosperity of industries reliant on its resources. Fisheries face the decline of crucial habitats, disrupting the delicate balance of marine life and affecting the livelihoods of those dependent on these industries. Additionally, the effects of land degradation extend to natural resources, impacting water quality, soil fertility, and overall ecological resilience. This can have profound implications for agriculture, water supply, and the overall health of the region. Addressing coastal land degradation becomes imperative not only for the preservation of nature but also as a safeguard for the well-being and prosperity of the people and the sustainable utilization of Texas’ natural resources.

In the Chenier Plain, Ducks Unlimited and partners of the Texas Chenier Plain Restoration Effort are coalescing the power of collaboration from state and federal agencies, non-profit conservation organizations, and private industry to employ science-based strategies for ecosystem-scale restoration. As a 2023 TxN Conservation Wrangler, Ducks Unlimited and Texan by Nature collaborated on the below story map to amplify the accomplishments, progress, and opportunities for Texans to learn and engage with this successful model. 

Learn more about how Texan by Nature uses GIS for Conservation Communication in this blog.

The Future of Conservation is Collaboration- Public and Private

Coastal restoration2 is not merely a conservation effort; it’s an investment in the future. The returns extend beyond environmental benefits, encompassing social and economic facets. Non-profit partners with boots on the ground are working with state and federal agencies to identify priority projects along the coast. The TxN Return on Conservation™ Index highlights how these projects contribute to carbon sequestration, water quality improvement, wildlife habitat enhancement, and storm surge mitigation. By activating grants and private investment, government agencies and businesses can contribute to conservation in the region that their constituents and stakeholders live, work, and play in.

Our vision is for every business, every Texan, to participate in conservation and for Texas to be a model of collaborative conservation for the world.

Texan by Nature’s Conservation Wrangler program accelerates the very best Texan-led conservation projects in the state. 2023 TxN Conservation Wrangler, Texas Chenier Plain Restoration Effort, exemplifies how collaboration between conservation and industry can pave the way for the future of conservation. 

Each year, Texan by Nature selects up to six projects to support with 18 months of tailored support in the form of program management, strategic planning, marketing messaging, metrics capture and analysis, professional content production, and partnership development – whatever is needed to accelerate the project. Applications for the 2024 program cycle are open and close on January 31, 2024. We recommend reviewing the webpage and application, taking the eligibility quiz, and reading this blog before applying. Contact programs@texanbynature.org for questions. 

1Land Degradation: refers to the process by which the quality of the land declines, making it less suitable for its intended use or natural functions. This degradation can result from factors like deforestation, overgrazing, improper agricultural practices, and urbanization.

2Coastal Restoration: refers to enhancing or improving the health of the coast, like beaches and shorelines. It involves activities to bring back natural features and ecosystems, such as planting vegetation, restoring sand dunes, or protecting habitats. The goal is to make the coastal areas healthier and more resilient to things like erosion and storms.