EWN Engagements

NNBF Guidelines Project – Fall 2016


Summary: On October 25th, 2016, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)’s Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC) hosted a two-day workshop to initiate the development of international guidelines to inform the conceptualization, planning, design, engineering, construction, and maintenance of Natural and Nature-based Features (NNBF) that are used to support resilience and flood risk reduction for coasts, bays, and estuaries. An international team of more than 30 authors and contributors assembled at ERDC’s Environmental Laboratory to begin work on this initiative.

Background: NNBF refers to those features that define natural coastal landscapes and are either naturally occurring or engineered to mimic natural conditions. Some examples of NNBF are beaches and dunes, salt marshes, oyster reefs and barrier islands. International interest is growing with respect to use of NNBF as part of a coastal inundation solution that mitigates flood risks to coastal communities while providing ecosystem services. However, there are presently no NNBF guidelines available to support practitioners and/or stakeholders that are interested in the use of these engineered features. A kick-off meeting (October 25-26, 2016) assembled an international team that will prepare such guidance. The attendees (31 total authors/contributors) represented government agencies, private sector engineering and construction companies, universities, and NGOs from the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand, and their affiliated organizations included: USACE, the Dutch Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares, the UK Environment Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Korea Institute for Ocean Science and Technology, Stanford University, Caterpillar Corporation, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, Anchor QEA, Biohabitats, Inc., Ecology & Environment, Inc., LimnoTech, Ramboll, Tonkin and Taylor, and HR Wallingford. Three individuals representing academic institutions (University of Maryland, Rutgers University and US Naval Academy) were also able to participate in portions of the meeting by phone. This initial meeting provided attendees a location and time to discuss the overall organization of the effort, develop a draft structure for the guidelines, and initially refine/expand chapter outlines. Additional organizations will be participating in future meetings and contributing to development of the NNBF Guidelines.

Outcomes: Authors and contributors provided their perspectives concerning the guidelines’ structure and initial draft of the working outline through a series of discussions that occurred in general (plenary) sessions and breakout groups. Their focused, creative and productive dialogues resulted in the following:

  1. An updated working outline for the Guidelines Document that includes notes and an expanded outlines for each of the currently identified chapters, which was based on breakout group discussions;
  2. Draft outline for the business case document in support of this collaborative project. The business case document will be developed to substantiate the value of committing time and resources towards the creation of the NNBF guidelines by an international team of contributors; and
  3. A tentative schedule for completing and publishing the NNBF Guidelines Document (tentatively scheduled for fall 2018).

Next Steps: The immediate next steps include the following:

  1. Drafting teams (established during breakout groups) will continue to develop the content of the guidelines and business case document over the coming months leading to the next working meeting in spring 2017;
  2. Drafting teams will also begin developing a list of case study examples (including brief descriptions) to include within the NNBF Guideline Document.

Meeting Agenda

As a first step in the NNBF Guidelines development process, an international team developed a Scoping Document. The Scoping Document is offered to the home institutions of project team members for the purpose of describing the global need for the project.

Project Scoping Document: Guidelines on the Use of Natural and Nature-Based Features for Sustainable Coastal and Fluvial Systems (PDF)


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