Preserving and rebuilding natural defenses is one of the most cost-effective, practical and sustainable ways to protect American communities and natural resources from natural disasters, according to a new report released by Defenders of Wildlife. The new report demonstrates that by strengthening natural defenses like floodplains, wetlands, and forests — which help with erosion protection, flood control and water filtration, we can “harness nature” to help protect us from extreme events.
The report comes on the tail of a year of record-breaking natural disasters. No fewer than 14 weather disasters caused damages exceeding one billion dollars each in the United States in 2011, breaking the previous record of nine in 2008. Already, 2012 has seen unusually frequent and fierce weather patterns, such as the “weekend of 100 tornadoes.” With the recent announcement that the past 12 months were the warmest on record, more years like 2011 are undoubtedly to come.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, had this to say as she marked the report’s release:
“The weather changes occurring across the country are not like a bad storm that will eventually blow over. As climate change continues unabated, these events will intensify in years to come. Tornados, floods and wildfires can destroy entire communities and will continue to do so unless we take steps to prepare ourselves and protect our communities in a changing world. Fortunately, one of our best allies against increasingly devastating natural disasters is nature itself.
“Already, communities across the country are taking advantages of the defenses nature provides. In New York, they are protecting the watershed to maintain a safe drinking water supply. In Missouri, they are restoring wetlands to protect farms and communities from flooding. And these are just a few examples. Our report shows that viable and cost-effective solutions to climate-change risks can help America better prepare for the challenges ahead.”