Healthy wetlands, forests, and other native plant communities slow surface water flows and absorb energy, protecting communities from extreme rainfall events, rising sea levels, and flooding. Coastal native plant communities such as mangrove forests and coastal marshes absorb and slow the movement of hurricanes and other strong storms. The protective effect of coastal plant communities can extend far inland.
Examples and Additional Resources
With a Green Makeover, Philadelphia Is Tackling Its Stormwater Problem—2018 article from Yale 360 describes $2.4 billion in investment in plant communities to avoid more than $9 billion in conventional “grey” stormwater management infrastructure
Green solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction and climate change adaptation – UNESCO March 2019
2013 Study and Model: Mangroves and other native plants protect coasts during hurricanes and strong storms
University of California Santa Cruz, the Nature Conservancy and others. 2016 study show that coastal plant communities prevented $625 million in damage during Hurricane Sandy.
Coastal wetlands dramatically reduce property losses during hurricanes – UC Santa Cruz study summary
Comparing the cost effectiveness of nature-based and coastal adaptation: A case study from the Gulf Coast of the United States
National Environmental Education Foundations Wetlands Work for Us Infographic on water purification, groundwater recharge, flood control and other wetland ecosystem services.
Planning for the Future of Urban Biodiversity: A Global Review of City-Scale Initiatives – BioScience April 2017
Why is Houston so vulnerable to devastating floods?By Professor Philip R Berke Texas A&M University
HELL AND HIGH WATER — Houston: Boomtown, Flood Town
Seven lessons for planning nature-based solutions in cities. 2019 review of Nature Based Solutions projects in 11 European cities
Rain Gardens Are a Beautiful Solution to Stormwater Problems – NewJersey.com
Green Infrastructure & Proper Vegetation. 2019 review of plant selection for a Wisconsin stormwater management project
Using Mangroves for Coastal Defense – The Nature Conservancy
A benefit–cost analysis of floodplain land acquisition for US flood damage reduction. 2020 article in Nature Sustainability. It shows a return of up to $5 for every $1 invested in protecting floodplains from development.