SNAPP TEAM:Coastal Defenses
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How do coastal habitats reduce the risks posed to people and property by sea-level rise and natural hazards and how can these habitats be used to create more cost-effective natural solutions?

Coastal development and climate change are increasing the risks to millions of people from storm surges, sea-level rise and other natural hazards. Coastal habitats like mangroves, coral reefs, and salt marshes can reduce those risks and protect lives and property in a more cost-effective way, providing benefits for coastal species as well as the human communities that rely on them.


OUR APPROACH: This team explored and synthesized information on how healthy coastal habitats can help protect coastal communities and livelihoods from the impacts of extreme storm events, such as hurricanes.

Team Status: COMPLETED
Team Critical Challenge:

Natural Defenses Database

The team synthesized information on natural habitats and organized it in a publicly available, free database. This collection includes 67 examples of natural coastal defenses around the globe, demonstrating that coastal habitats can and do provide considerable protection to coastal communities. The ultimate goal of this database is to provide lessons and guidance for the effective management and use of habitats for coastal defense.


Damage Prevented during Hurricane Sandy

Together with leaders in the insurance and risk management industries, such as Lloyd’s of London, Risk Management Solutions, and Guy Carpenter and Company, the team put a dollar value on the risk reduction provided by coastal wetlands. They discovered that coastal wetlands prevented more than $625 million in property damages along the Northeast coast during Hurricane Sandy and reduced property damages by 10% on average. By highlighting the direct and quantifiable benefits wetlands can provide, the team helped companies and communities understand how they can conserve, restore, and benefit from natural defenses.




“This work shows the unlikely yet powerful benefits of collaboration between insurers, engineers, and conservationists in identifying solutions to reduce risks to people, property, and nature.”

– Mike Beck, Project co-leader



Key Products
As flood risks rise, engineers, ecologists and economists come together

A post on The Nature Conservancy’s blog, Cool Green Science, highlighting the results created by this multidisciplinary team.

Effectiveness, costs and benefits of nature-based defenses for wave reduction

This database contains cost-benefit information about the implementation of different coastal defense solutions and their effectiveness in reducing waves to protect coastlines.

Incorporating value of coral reefs and mangroves into national wealth accounts

This project brief outlines a framework for a guidance document to help developing nations incorporate natural coastal defenses into their wealth accounts.

Mapping mangrove ecosystem provides management insights and objectives

In this PLoS ONE article, the team describes how data-poor mapping of ecosystems services may impact the equity of mangrove management for particular services across the urban-rural divide in developing countries.

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Mike Beck
University of California, Santa Cruz
Jane “Carter” Ingram
Pollination Group
Borja Reguero
University of California, Santa Cruz
Bregje K. van Wesenbeeck
Caleb McClennen
Wildlife Conservation Society
Fabrice Renaud
United Nations University
Glenn-Marie Lange
Senior Economist (World Bank) and Environment for Development Initiative
Iñigo Losada
Environmental Hydraulics Institute IH Cantabria
Jim Jarvie
Mercy Corps
Jim Sanchirico
University of California, Davis
Sangeeta Mangubhai
Talanoa Consulting Fiji
Siddharth Narayan
East Carolina University
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