Nature-Based Solutions for Coastal Resilience, Habitat Enhancement, and Water Quality Improvement at the San Francisco Bay Shoreline

A standing bird is reflected in shallow water.

Challenges, Solutions, and Next Steps

The successful implementation of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) along the San Francisco Bay shoreline offers a pathway to sustainable coastal resilience that is equitable, economical and long-lasting. However, this pathway is not easily paved without careful planning and collaboration. Over the course of a three-day workshop hosted by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership (SFEP) and Bay Area One Water Network, participants shared insights on the cross-sectoral challenges facing stakeholders impacted by NbS, goals and drivers behind NbS for shoreline resilience in the Bay Area, and opportunities for working together to create shared solutions that lead to the implementation, funding and regulation of NbS. Participants represented diverse stakeholder groups including regulatory agencies, community-based organizations, wastewater agencies, academic institutions and shoreline planning groups.

The workshop was facilitated by staff from SFEP, the Bay Area One Water Network and the Meridian Institute. Emerging from this workshop were a set of both expected and innovative ideas for how to proceed, as well as lessons learned that can help guide work in this field for years to come. The throughline of these ideas rang clear: there is no one-size-fits-all approach to designing, planning or implementing NbS. These varied infrastructural assets (such as horizontal levees, floating wetlands, oyster reefs, etc.) are place-based, nuanced and have tangible impacts on all stakeholders. Their planning and implementation should be guided by several key goals: be cost-effective, adaptable, achievable, provide long-term value, steward the natural environment and serve the surrounding communities.