Mangrove forests are excellent buffers against storms Soon after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the coast of Texas in 2017, the tragically slow-moving, highly-destructive storm dumped a record-breaking amount of rain on Houston and southern Texas for days. Yet this could have been much worse for Clear Lake City, a community in southeastern Houston, which was protected by a swath of newly reclaimed wetland. Once an abandoned golf course, the area was in the process of being converted into a 200-acre park and wetland. When Harvey hit, the effort was only 80% complete, yet still able to hold 100 million gallons of water and protect 150 homes from flooding. This is one of the examples in a new report, published on June 5th by the National Wildlife Federation, that documents the oft-overlooked capacity of natural ecosystems to protect communities from hurricanes and other natural disasters. The report, “ The Protective Value of Nature ,” draws upon decades of research to make the case for the “urgent need to dramatically scale up the application of natural infrastructure,” including both intact natural ecosystems, like mangroves and forests, and systems built to mimic nature, such as engineered dunes. Published just ahead of […]

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