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Partner Collaborations Support Climate Change Adaptation for Coastal National Wildlife Refuges

A team of Southeast CASC researchers summarize their activities, outcomes, and lessons learned from a three-year project with the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and local partners in the surrounding South Carolina Lowcountry to help the region adapt to climate change.

Cape Romain Project team
Cape Romain Project team members (left to right) David Salvesen, Gerard McMahon, Fred Johnson and Raye Nilius (Lowcountry Refuges Team Leader) tour freshwater impoundements and areas of coastal erosion at the refuge. (credit - M. Eaton)

Read the original news story by the Southeast CASC, here.

The South Carolina Lowcountry is known for its beautiful beaches and landscapes; however, coastal hurricanes, sea-level rise, and urban growth are creating challenges to wildlife and human’s use of this area. The goals of a team of Southeast CASC team of researchers working with the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and local partners in the surrounding South Carolina Lowcountry were to foster active engagement with stakeholders; to develop a comprehensive definition of adaptation problems faced by agencies, organizations, and individuals near the Cape Romain NWR that accounts for global change, local values, knowledge and perceptions; and to encourage social learning and building of effective networks and trust across South Carolina Lowcountry organizations and individuals.

Discussions with Cape Romain Partnership for Coastal Conservation members, led to research topics focused on quantifying key drivers of change including localized sea-level rise (SLR) predictions, estimates of coastal hurricane inundation as amplified by SLR, and urban growth trends and forecasts. These key drivers provided a foundation to engage stakeholders in planning exercises to begin a process of collective understanding and collaborative decision making.

The researchers facilitated a scenario-planning exercise to familiarize partners with this well-established approach for communicating the opportunities and threats arising under alternative, plausible futures. The diverse and robust set of scientific approaches, methods to help stakeholders collaborate in effective and goal-driven planning processes, and decision tools resulting from this project hopefully will assist Cape Romain NWR and its partners prepare for climatic, ecological, and social changes over the coming decades.


This publication is a product of the project, “Climate Change Adaptation for Coastal National Wildlife Refuges funded by the Southeast CASC.


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