Quick Take: Nature Protects People

(ALL RIGHTS, ALL USES) Mangrove roots and fish at Union Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Coastal mangrove forests serve as a breeding gound for sea life and a natural barrier against storms and sea level rise erosion. St. Vincent and the Grenadines are located at the Southern end of the Lesser Antilles. These islands are ringed by barrier, patch and fringing reefs. Seagrass beds and mangrove wetlands thrive in coastal areas.  PHOTO CREDIT: © Marjo Aho
Mangrove roots and fish at Union Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Coastal mangrove forests serve as a breeding gound for sea life and a natural barrier against storms and sea level rise erosion. PHOTO CREDIT: © Marjo Aho

By Kathy Baughman McLeod, Managing Director, Coastal Risk & Resilience, The Nature Conservancy

This week, I’m in South Florida with partners from local government, the private sector and the international community to highlight the vital role that nature plays in protecting people in Miami-Dade County and coastal communities around the world.

Miami-Dade is one of the most economically vulnerable locations on the planet. With over $345 billion in assets and 2.6 million people at risk due to flooding and sea level rise, powerful solutions are needed in order to keep the county safe.

Seawalls and breakwaters often come to mind as disaster preparedness tools, but these are not the only options. Coral reefs, mangroves, wetlands, and sand dunes are the first lines of defense and increasingly recognized for their ability to slow waves, reduce flooding, and protect coastal people and property.

Rebecca Scheurer (Red Cross) and Kathy McLeod (TNC) talking about the benefits of nature as a powerful disaster preparedness tool.

A healthy coral reef can reduce 97 percent of a wave’s energy before it hits the shore, and just 100 meters of mangrove trees can reduce wave height by 66 percent. These nature-based solutions are cost-effective, self-maintaining and adaptable to sea-level rise. And they also offer other benefits to communities that traditional “grey infrastructure” solutions simply can’t, including improved water quality, fish production and new ecotourism opportunities.

The old adage applies: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. My colleague Rebecca Scheurer, Director of the Red Cross Global Disaster Preparedness Center, —> Read More

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail