Michael Volk’s work is focused on a variety of topics related to climate change and resilient design, including applied research with conservation partners throughout Florida on land use, regional conservation planning, urban green infrastructure and the impacts of sea level rise on natural resources and coastal communities.
Industry Expertise (1)
Architecture and Planning
Areas of Expertise (7)
Regional Conservation Planning
Adaptive Planning and Design
Sea Level Rise
Creating an initiative to meet climate change information needs for landscape architectsCouncil of Educators in Landscape Architecture
Belinda Nettles, Michael Volk, Gail Hansen
Florida Land Use and Land Cover Change in the Past 100 YearsFlorida’s Climate: Changes, Variations, & Impacts
Michael Volk, Thomas Hoctor, Belinda Nettles, Richard Hilsenbeck, Francis Putz
Living Shoreline Treatment Suitability Analysis: A Study on Coastal Protection Opportunities for Sarasota CountyJournal of Sustainable Development
Briana Dobbs, Michael Volk, Nawari Nawari
2017 Increases in the world population, sea level rise, and urbanization of coastal areas have put tremendous pressures on coastlines around the world. As a result, natural shoreline habitats are being replaced by seawalls and other hardened forms of coastal protection. Evidence shows that hardened shorelines can have a negative impact on the environment and surrounding habitat, leading to a loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This research aims to increase the different forms of coastal protection used throughout Sarasota County, Florida by conducting a geographic information system (GIS) suitability analysis for living shoreline treatment. Living shorelines or hybrid solutions are a more ecologically sustainable alternative to traditional forms of coastal protection, which use natural ecosystems or alternatively- structural organic and natural materials such as plantings, rocks, and oyster beds to stabilize shorelines and enhance shoreline habitat. The GIS model identifies coastlines that are 1) most suitable for living shoreline treatment, 2) most suitable for a hybrid solution, or 3) not suitable for living shorelines by analyzing the bathymetry, land use, land value, tree canopy, population, wave energy, shoreline sensitivity, and shoreline habitat. The suitability for living shoreline treatments was assessed independently for each parameter and assigned a value ranging from 0, areas that should consider using traditional methods of coastal protection to 3, shoreline segments most suitable for living shoreline treatment. The results from the individual analyses for each parameter were combined using a weighted overlay approach to determine general suitability for living shorelines within the study area. The result found that over 95% of the shoreline segments are potentially suitable for hybrid shoreline stabilization solutions.
Spatial conservation prioritization to conserve biodiversity in response to sea level rise and land use change in the Matanzas River Basin, Northeast FloridaLandscape and Urban Planning
Ming-Jian Zhu, Thomas Hoctor, Michael Volk, Kathryn Frank, Paul D. Zwick, Margaret H Carr, Anna C. Linhoss
2015 We develop an integrated modeling process to identify conservation priorities. • We show how current reserves could be expanded for adaptation to sea level rise. • Existing conservation layers are good foundations for adaption to sea level rise. • We demonstrate how development scenarios could be integrated in the planning process. a b s t r a c t Sea level rise and land use change are likely to be some of the most fundamental and important challenges for biodiversity conservation in low-lying coastal areas in the 21st century. To protect biodiversity in coastal areas, there is an urgent need to identify conservation priorities in response to sea level rise and land use change. In this study, an integrated modeling process using a geomorphological model, species habitat models, and conservation prioritization is developed to identify conservation priorities in the face of sea level rise and land use change. We present a case study in the Matanzas River Basin of Northeast Florida that utilizes this integrated modeling approach with data for 38 focal species. We incorporate species-specific connectivity requirements in the analysis and compare the conservation priorities with existing conservation datasets including current conservation areas and the Florida Ecological Green-ways Network (FEGN). Results show that current reserves are not adequate to protect some of the most important conservation priorities in response to sea level rise but the updated FEGN does serve as a good foundation to inform future conservation decisions relevant to sea level rise. To protect the top 10% conservation priorities, approximately 11,700, 10,900 and 15,200 acres of additional land will need to be acquired for the 0.5, 1.0, and 2.5 m sea level rise scenarios respectively.
Managing Coastal Change in the Cultural Landscape: A Case Study in Yankeetown and Inglis, FloridaChange Over Time
Michael Volk, Kathryn Frank, Belinda Nettles
2015 Climate change and sea level rise are phenomena with significant cultural dimensions at all spatial levels; however, these dimensions are often neglected in adaptation planning. The community and regional planning field is awakening to the importance of culture as a concern in planning, including community well being, distinctiveness, cohesion, and capacity. Since planning is often conducted with a spatial focus, the concept of cultural landscapes is a potentially useful tool, and in particular for climate change and sea level rise adaptation. This article describes an action research project for local sea level rise adaptation planning that attended to cultural landscapes. The planning process asked: (1) What core cultural landscapes are important to maintain? (2) What cultural landscapes may be lost due to external changes and adaptation choices? and (3) What cultural landscape adaptive capacities exist to achieve community resilience? The project communities are the towns of Yankeetown and Inglis, neighboring small towns situated in the rural Gulf coast of Florida. The project found that locally significant cultural landscapes emerge when residents participate in planning processes, and that these landscapes hold new keys to successful adaptation.