Storm Protection | Flood Control

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

As Floods Increase, Cities Like Detroit Are Looking To Green Stormwater Infrastructure. 2019 ENSIA article

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

Mangrove Forest © Shirley Denton Florida Native Plant Society

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

Reclaiming golf courses could help Houston fight the next Hurricane Harvey— Washington Post

Why is Houston so vulnerable to devastating floods?By Professor Philip R Berke Texas A&M University

How ‘Wild West’ growth may have contributed to devastating flood in Houston

HELL AND HIGH WATER — Houston: Boomtown, Flood Town

How did climate change affect Hurricanes Harvey and Irma?

What makes Houston so vulnerable to serious floods?

How to fight Houston flooding with plants

Assessing the role of mangrove forest in reducing coastal inundation during major hurricanes

Stormwater management and ecosystem services: a review

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 –

Green Infrastructure & Proper Vegetation.  2019 review of plant selection for a Wisconsin stormwater management project

Using Mangroves for Coastal Defense – The Nature Conservancy

The Effectiveness, Costs and Coastal Protection Benefits of Natural and Nature-Based Defenses 2016 journal article

On Java’s Coast, A Natural Approach to Holding Back the Waters

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.