Nik Heynen and Dean Hardy have been awarded a NSF Research Grant titled “A Socio-Ecological Investigation of the Long-Term Impacts of Uneven Exurban Development, Sea-Level Rise, on Socioeconomically Differentiated Communities” based on Sapelo Island.  In partnership with UGAMI, DNR, SINERR, and SICARS the project seeks to investigate the connections between ongoing changes in property ownership, sea-level rise and new efforts to grow heritage crops on Sapelo for the sake of economic development.

Here is the public abstract for the project:

This project investigates how the interconnected socio-ecological processes of uneven exurban development, growing urban-rural connections, and potential increased flooding due to sea-level rise interact to transform land-use and vulnerability in coastal environments.  The investigators will analyze how a centuries-old drainage ditch network increases the likelihood of vulnerability to flooding and how that will impact current economic development strategies intended to increase rural community resilience amidst increasing exurban development pressures. A coupled socio-ecological approach is especially important because of the future projections of significant population growth and the possibility of negative impacts of sea-level rise on coastal landscapes of the southeastern United States. Despite widespread recognition, the uneven ways that the socio-ecological history of racial inequality has raised vulnerability for some while decreasing it for others continues to be absent from much of the research that is explicitly socio-ecological. Findings from this research will improve adaptation planning by providing relevant information to state and local government managers as well as coastal residents of how complicated race relations have shaped land-use decisions that impact the vulnerability of economic opportunities. The research will create education, training, and engagement opportunities for diverse scholars, undergraduate, and graduate students.

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