Nobody will neglect the extraordinary challenges that 2020 introduced us, from record-breaking hurricanes and wildfires to a world pandemic that devastated our economic system and public well being. As Congress and the Biden administration look to assist our nation rebuild and get better from these compounding crises, investing in nature presents a chance to ship a number of advantages for communities, birds, and different wildlife. Audubon presents a brand new suite of coverage suggestions for making our communities and wildlife extra resilient to local weather change, by placing our wetlands, barrier islands, and different ecosystems to work.
Similar to roads and bridges, our pure landscapes—like marshes, seashores, and floodplains—present crucial providers to our communities. They function protected leisure areas, improve our resilience to local weather threats like rising flooding and drought, and enhance habitats for birds and different wildlife. Additionally they act as carbon sinks by storing carbon air pollution of their leaves, roots, and soils, bringing the U.S. nearer to assembly the Biden administration’s lately introduced purpose to lower U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030.
The results of local weather change are already being felt by communities across the nation who’re going through rising seas, extra intense and frequent storms, heavier rainfall occasions, or extra excessive droughts. Greater than 41 million Individuals face rising flood dangers, and $1 trillion in properties within the U.S. are threatened by sea-level rise alone.
Birds are additionally telling us that we have to act on local weather change. Local weather change is already threatening the survival of birds just like the Saltmarsh Sparrow, that are more and more seeing their nests inundated by floodwaters, and hotter waters are driving the fish that seabirds depend on additional and deeper into the ocean. Consequently, sea- and shorebird populations have decreased by 70 % over the past a number of a long time.
Pure infrastructure presents a chance for addressing local weather threats to each birds and communities, whereas placing individuals again to work in protected, high-paying restoration jobs. Pure infrastructure is engineering with nature. It entails restoring and mimicking pure landscapes like wetlands to buffer communities towards flooding, improve habitats for birds and different wildlife, and soak up carbon air pollution—delivering a number of advantages for communities and birds.
By defending pure barrier islands and restoring marshes, we are able to shore up these first traces of protection that shield communities towards storm surge and rising seas. We will reconnect rivers and lakes, and restore pure floodplains to soak up the heavy rains which are more and more flooding communities. Lastly, we have to assist our communities adapt to a altering local weather, by incorporating climate-resilient rebuilding practices and nature-based approaches into our catastrophe restoration and hazard mitigation applications.
Plus, pure infrastructure may be extra cost-efficient than conventional “grey” infrastructure– like seawalls and jetties—when accounting for environmental and social values. For instance, our financial evaluation reveals that eradicating a flood-prone highway and restoring salt marsh within the Mastic Seashore group on Lengthy Island, New York, will return $15 for each greenback invested, by way of flood threat discount, habitat, leisure values, and extra.
Grey infrastructure constructed to guard towards at present’s 100-year flood occasion will change into much less protecting over time as flood dangers improve with sea-level rise and altering rainfall patterns. Whereas grey infrastructure might be mandatory to guard some communities, grey and pure infrastructure can work collectively to create extra sturdy and environmentally helpful tasks that create a number of traces of protection.
Audubon is already working with our companions across the nation to show how we are able to put our coasts and waterways to work to raised shield our communities. In Marin Metropolis, California and southeast Chicago, we’re working to revive city wetlands and alleviate flooding in close by communities. Within the Carolinas, we’re defending and restoring islands that shield mainland communities and function house to numerous nesting coastal birds. And in Connecticut, Audubon is working with landowners to create house for marshes to “migrate” inland because the ocean encroaches.
As Congress and the Administration make financial investments to assist the nation get better from the COVID-19 pandemic and search for methods to construct resilience and fight local weather change, they need to prioritize pure infrastructure as win-win-win for birds and folks.
Obtain Audubon’s pure infrastructure coverage platform: Constructing Resilience with Nature.