Rural coastal community resilience: Assessing a framework in eastern North Carolina

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Abstract

Rural coastal communities have unique vulnerabilities to the impacts caused by sea level rise and saltwater intrusion compared to coastal urban areas that have growing populations, increasing property values, and extensive infrastructure. In contrast, rural coastal communities are typically dependent on traditional natural resource livelihoods like farming, commercial fishing, forestry, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Saltwater intrusion, exacerbated by sea level rise, impacts rural livelihoods by limiting suitable agricultural land and development options, which compounds local economic difficulties. Higher rates of poverty, aging demographics, and out-migration already challenge the resilience of rural coastal communities. Informed by sociological research that addresses the local economic factors unique to rural communities and resilience research on coastal communities and natural hazards, we propose the Rural Coastal Community Resilience (RCCR) framework. We test the RCCR framework through a series of focus groups within the Albemarle Pamlico Peninsula of North Carolina (U.S.), a low-lying, rural region with nearly one-half of its land less than 1 m above sea level. Applying the RCCR framework revealed that local priorities include maintaining rural livelihoods, creating job opportunities, and addressing highly vulnerable populations. By including stakeholder voices to stimulate capacity building dialogue, the RCCR framework boosts rural coastal community resilience by focusing on locally perceived resilience needs as targets for capacity building workshops, management interventions, and climate action planning.

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Jurjonas, M., & Seekamp, E. (2018). Rural coastal community resilience: Assessing a framework in eastern North Carolina. Ocean and Coastal Management, 162, 137–150. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2017.10.010

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