How 3 U.S. States Incorporate Coastal Habitats Into Climate Change Planning

Pew webinar explored blue carbon conservation in California, New Jersey, and North Carolina


How 3 U.S. States Incorporate Coastal Habitats Into Climate Change Planning
A heron stands on the decaying remnants of a tree, lying among tall grasses and reeds along the edge of a calm inlet. The water extends toward the horizon, where it meets a treed shoreline. The sky above is light gray and thick with clouds.
A heron perches atop a dead tree in a salt marsh in Cedar Point, North Carolina. The state now includes carbon that is captured and stored in salt marsh and seagrasses in its annual inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and “carbon sinks.” GHG inventories allow states to better understand carbon emissions and removals and can be used to track progress on emission reductions.
North Carolina Division of Water Resources Flickr

Coastal wetlands—including salt marshes, tidal forested wetlands, and seagrasses—can sequester more carbon per acre than inland forests, making them some of the world’s most effective natural carbon sinks. So, states are increasingly incorporating the protection and restoration of these “blue carbon” habitats into their broader initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet their climate change goals.

The Pew Charitable Trusts hosted a webinar on April 25, 2024, featuring experts from California, New Jersey, and North Carolina, to learn about their states’ efforts to protect and restore blue carbon habitats and how those states are leveraging federal programs to support their work.

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Clesi Bennett

Senior environmental scientist, California Natural Resources Agency, Division of Climate Change Programs

Bennett leads the production and coordination of research and technical work underpinning the California Natural Resources Agency’s climate policies and strategic projects, collaborating across state agencies to ensure robust inclusion of nature-based solutions in state plans and program guidelines. She previously served as a coastal planner at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, working on issues related to environmental justice and climate change. Bennett has also worked on climate change vulnerability and resilience issues at the California State Coastal Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and The Center for the Blue Economy.

Jacob Boyd

Salt marsh program director, North Carolina Coastal Federation

Boyd plays a critical role in shaping the direction of North Carolina’s salt marsh program, building partnerships, securing funding, and setting goals to benefit the state’s coastal ecosystems and build more resilient communities. He also serves in leadership roles helping to develop and implement climate resilience and adaptation strategies through coordination with the 2020 North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan, the 2020 Natural and Working Lands Action Plan, and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Interagency Resilience Team, among other state and federal entities. Boyd previously worked for the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries in multiple roles, most recently as the chief of the Habitat and Enhancement Section, where he oversaw programs to manage and coordinate large-scale marine and estuarine habitat restoration and enhancement and helped lead the state’s Coastal Habitat Protection Plan.

Boyd holds a master’s degree in biology from East Carolina University and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Joshua Moody

Research scientist, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science and Research

Dr. Moody is a coastal wetland and restoration research scientist with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science and Research. In this role, he coordinates with multiple divisions and bureaus, as well as a cross section of regional partners, to provide technical support related to coastal wetland health and resilience. Moody’s primary focus is on the current conditions and trajectories of New Jersey’s coastal wetlands, as well as the state of the science regarding coastal wetland resilience tools and monitoring methodologies to protect, enhance, and restore these ecosystems. He also conducts field-based research regarding the ability of coastal wetlands to benefit humans and the environment, such as carbon sequestration, flood protection, and habitat for species.


Alex Clayton Moya

Officer, U.S. conservation, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Moya works to incorporate conservation and restoration of coastal blue carbon and peatland habitats in state and national climate policies. She leads efforts to engage primarily with state agencies as they seek to incorporate wetlands into their climate change planning, helping to connect science and research to the policy choices of decision-makers.

Before joining Pew, Moya worked for the EPA on nonpoint source pollution and Columbia River salmon issues in the Pacific Northwest. Earlier in her career, she worked on international environmental policy with an emphasis on wildlife conservation and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal.

Moya holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bucknell University and master’s degrees in public policy and in natural resources and environment from the University of Michigan.

Scientist measuring water depth
Scientist measuring water depth
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