Sanibel and Captiva are gems along the Southwest Florida coastline. Full-time and seasonal residents, along with regular visitors, prize the lush landscapes, vibrant wildlife, and the peaceful lifestyle that the islands have to offer. While the islands have undergone significant change over time, they will continue to face increasing stressors. Among these, climate change is of pressing significance including the associated impacts of sea level rise and changes in extreme storm events and overall precipitation patterns that can contribute to coastal flooding. Achieving coastal resilience is key to preserving what makes Sanibel and Captiva special both in the near term and into the future. Resilient ecosystems and communities have the ability to withstand, adapt to, and recover from disruption.
In complement to the other work we do supporting healthy and functional ecosystems in Southwest Florida, SCCF is committed to helping the islands forge a successful pathway towards coastal resilience. The Captiva Erosion Prevention District is also partnering in that effort including through their funding of SCCF’s Coastal Resilience Manager position.
SCCF’s coastal resilience work focuses on the following key areas:
Adaptation planning – Achieving resilience requires that we plan across multiple scales. Planning for the current and future impacts of coastal flooding for our islands mirrors efforts occurring at the regional and state level, and by other vulnerable Florida communities. In instances when an infrastructure solution may be required, SCCF advocates for green and hybrid options that incorporate natural habitats and materials either by themselves or in conjunction with hardened options like seawalls in order to maintain the co-benefits and health of our important local ecosystems along with the quality of life we enjoy here.
Mitigation – Sanibel and Captiva have the opportunity to lead by example for our region as we have in many other instances. Embracing adoption of renewable energy sources and increasing our energy efficiency means we do our part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while improving the potential future we need to adapt and providing other economic and environmental benefits.
Policy – SCCF’s environmental policy team tracks and responds to important local, state, and federal policy around issues that include water quality, land and habitat management, and wildlife conservation. We have expanded those efforts to also encompass coastal resilience.
Communications, Education, and Outreach – Part of becoming resilient means helping our local communities understand what resilience means and why we need to strive for it. This also means engaging with our new residents and visitors so they can understand the story of our islands and the unique future challenges we face as barrier islands.