Make Way for Wetlands: Facilitating Wetlands Migration in Response to Rising Seas
As sea levels rise, wetlands are encountering physical barriers to inland migration—a phenomenon known as "coastal squeeze." Wetlands are being squeezed between sea-level rise on one side and human development on the other, preventing their natural ability to adapt by moving to higher ground. As wetlands migrate, they encroach on existing land uses, such as agriculture, forestry, and residential communities, raising additional questions about shifting economies, environmental justice, and wetlands and private development regulations. The aim of this session is to promote a dialogue about how wetlands migration may be considered and integrated into the development of federal, state, and community strategies for coastal management, land use planning, and climate adaptation and managed retreat. This session will assemble an interdisciplinary panel of experts and practitioners who are exploring the issue of coastal squeeze and wetlands migration, and engage participants in identifying ways to build a community of practice to advance existing research and on-the-ground efforts. Panelists will briefly share their pioneering work in this field—including research projects, practitioner and stakeholder engagement, and case study examples—to kickstart an interactive, café style discussion to learn what others are working on related to wetlands migration and what opportunities and barriers they are encountering. Participants will also be asked focused questions, including what priority issues a community of practice should consider, who should be included in a community of practice, and what legal and policy tools are available to support wetlands migration. The session will conclude with the full group of participants reconvening to share main takeaways and summarize potential next steps to support wetlands migration on different scales across the nation. As a result of this session, participants will gain a better understanding of the current issues and needs for laws and policies to facilitate wetlands migration; learn about examples of states and communities addressing these questions; and help shape a growing network of practitioners and resources that may support their own work.