Managing coasts with natural solutions

Reefs and mangroves reduce the impact of waves hitting coasts, thus decreasing the risks of flooding and erosion, notes a world bank report.

The report provides review and recommendations for how the protective services of mangroves and coral reefs can be measured and valued in a manner consistent with national economic accounts and included in other decision-making processes to support planning for development, disaster risk, and coastal zone management.

‘‘Managing coasts with natural solutions: Guidelines for measuring and valuing the coastal protection services of mangroves and coral reefs‘‘  was published by world bank in February 2016. It presents evidence of the role mangroves and coral reefs play in coastal protection and risk reduction. It also reviews the tools and approaches commonly used by ecologists, economists and engineers for estimating the coastal protection services of coastal habitats.

The report demonstrates that mangroves and reefs not only have ecological value, but also social and economic significance. To date, the ecosystem services that have been highly valued for mangroves and coral reefs are provisioning services, such as how much fish production or timber a habitat can provide. This new work on flood reduction value is one of the very first, rigorous valuations of regulating services that can be done at a national and global scale.

The combined impacts of population growth, urbanisation and climate change continue to make coastal defense more and more challenging. Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people are at risk from floods and extreme weather, and the economic cost of damages is rising steeply.

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(World Bank/Ob)