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Tool Structure

Pilot Project

Project Team


A Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Coastal Habitats (CCVATCH)


Pilot Teams at NI-WB NERR

Volunteers have been assembled into four pilot teams to test the CCVATCH. The teams will attempt to score habitats in four case study areas. They will be testing the tool's utility for developing vulnerability assessmnets and making reccomendations to the tool development team.

Pilot Project Kick-Off Workshops held at North Inlet and Chesapeake Bay

Land managers, researchers, land stewards and local officials who are challenged with making conservation decisions in a changing environment participated in the Project Kick-off workshops held last fall at the North Inlet-Winyah Bay NERR and the Cheasapeake Bay, Virginia NERR. These workshops were an opportunity for potential users of this tool to learn more about its development and how they can become involved, and to discuss the use of climate change vulnerability assessments in conservation planning.

At each of the Kickoff Workshops, participants were polled in order to help define the scenarios that would be used in completing the CCVATCH at future workshops.  The stakeholders were asked questions relating to:  (1) time frame, (2) emissions scenarios, (3) geographic scales, and (4) habitats to be used as assessment targets. Based on participants feedback, potential case studies to use for piloting the tool were developed by the project team. pArticiapnts input is currently being sought to rank the case studies in order of preference.

Outcomes summary from the NI-WB Pilot Kick-off Workshop

Outcomes summary from the CBVANERR Pilot Kick-off Workshop


CCVATCH Intended User Survey

The purpose of this survey is to provide feedback to the tool developers and pilot testers from intended users, such as land managers, researchers, land stewards and local officials. The survey will gather information about current habitat vulnerability assessment work being done, how (if) climate change is being incorporated into assessments and conservation planning, and challanges and information needs faced by managers and decision makers.  This project is being led by the staff at the North-Inlet Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Chesapeak Bay, Virginia, National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Click here to participate in the *North Inlet- Winyah Bay* area survey.

Click here to participate in the *Chesapeake Bay* area survey

Pilot Project Description

The CCVATCH Pilot Project will test and refine the CCVATCH by inviting local habitat managers, decision-makers and researchers to work collaboratively to apply the tool to generate vulnerability scores for five selected coastal habitats at each of two pilot sites.

The CCVATCH will be evaluated in terms of:

(1) time and resources needed to complete the assessment
(2) the output of the tool in terms of the perceived accuracy of the scores
(3) the confidence level associated with the scoring process, and
(4) the applicability of the results to coastal management needs.

The results of these assessments will be used to refine the CCVATCH and will be incorporated into guidance documentation that will be packaged with the tool so that the tool can be used by other Reserves and land managers through a similar collaborative process involving habitat managers and decision-makers seeking to understand the potential impacts of climate change on coastal habitats of ecological and economic importance.

This project is supported by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative, a partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of New Hampshire. Projects sponsored by this program bring intended users of science into the research process so that their perspectives can inform problem definition, research implementation, and ultimately, the practical application of research results to help manage coastal environments, protect human health and property, and support coastal economies. For more information, visit:

Pilot Sites

A collaborative process will be used to test and refine the CCVATCH at two Reserve pilot sites, the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in South Carolina (NIWBNERR) and the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia National Estuarine Research Reserve (CBNERRVA`). The NIWBNERR and CBNERRVA protect and manage critical coastal habitats that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. At the same time, these areas will face greatly increased development pressure in their watersheds in the next 50-100 years, and many land management decisions that are currently being made now will have a significant impact on the future resilience of coastal habitats. Existing research projects, partnerships with local organizations and decision-makers, and potential regional scale cooperative projects that have been discussed with partners at these reserves make these sites ideal for collaboratively developing and applying a tool designed to specifically assess the vulnerability of coastal habitats.


For more information on the CCVATCH Pilot Project, please contact Kiersten Madden


NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve System University of South Carolina Baruch Institute-USC Belle W. Baruch Foundation