Nobody will neglect the extreme 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 recuperate 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 important companies 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 objective to minimize 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 dealing with 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 p.c during the last a number of many years.
Pure infrastructure presents a chance for addressing local weather threats to each birds and communities, whereas placing folks again to work in protected, high-paying restoration jobs. Pure infrastructure is engineering with nature. It includes restoring and mimicking pure landscapes like wetlands to buffer communities towards flooding, improve habitats for birds and different wildlife, and take in 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 strains of protection that defend communities towards storm surge and rising seas. We are able to reconnect rivers and lakes, and restore pure floodplains to soak up the heavy rains which can be 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 packages.
Plus, pure infrastructure could 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, when it comes to flood danger discount, habitat, leisure values, and extra.
Grey infrastructure constructed to guard towards at this time’s 100-year flood occasion will turn into much less protecting over time as flood dangers enhance with sea-level rise and altering rainfall patterns. Whereas grey infrastructure might be crucial to guard some communities, grey and pure infrastructure can work collectively to create extra sturdy and environmentally helpful initiatives that create a number of strains of protection.
Audubon is already working with our companions across the nation to exhibit how we are able to put our coasts and waterways to work to raised defend 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 defend mainland communities and function house to numerous nesting coastal birds. And in Connecticut, Audubon is working with landowners to create area for marshes to “migrate” inland because the ocean encroaches.
As Congress and the Administration make financial investments to assist the nation recuperate 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.