So, how do we protect vulnerable coastal communities against the effects of extreme weather? The answer might surprise you: bolster natural habitats along shorelines, riverbanks and streams.
Wetlands and streams absorb floodwater, purify water, sequester CO2 and provide vital native habitat. Dunes deliver a sandy buffer against storm surges.
The trees, shrubs and grasses in a riparian forest filter sediment, nutrients and pesticides, improving water quality. Their roots stabilize the shore and reduce erosion from heavy rainfalls.
The maintenance and restoration of these natural areas is our best defense against bad weather and is often more affordable and sustainable than manmade infrastructures.
Want to get involved?
Volunteer at a conservation event to help restore native forests and wetlands.
If getting your hands dirty isn’t your thing, consider how you can help shape legislation to protect coastal habitats. Contact your local representative and ask them to prioritize legislation that protects native habitat and strengthens laws restricting development that can damage these vital ecosystems.
Investing in organizations that work to protect and restore coastal habitats is also a great way to contribute. The benefits of conserving dunes, wetlands, forests and shorelines go beyond battling bad weather.
Protected coastal spaces invite tourism and recreation, provide clean water and deliver critical habitat for native species. It’s one of those rare occasions where the best solutions for humans also benefit our natural environment, a win-win for people and wildlife alike.