Engineering Coastal Communities as Nature Intended

defenders.org

9-11 minutes


People love to live by the water. For centuries, cities like New York, Miami, Honolulu and San Francisco have attracted residents and tourists from around the world. In fact, almost half of the U.S. population lives in counties on the coast, and that percentage is growing in footprint, density, number and population, reshaping and hardening coastlines in the process. 

Coasts also provide habitat for great numbers of plants and animals and are typically biodiversity hotspots. But all this coastal development is reducing the amazing biodiversity along our shorelines. 

Oregon coast as seen from Ecola State Park

Sristi Kamal

Coastal Defenses

Development has also reduced our coasts’ natural ability to resist and recover from natural disasters and has removed habitat that provides shelter for wildlife and ecosystem services for humans. Traditional coastal defenses like sea walls and levees are widely used to protect communities, but these artificial coastal barriers can lead to significant erosion or unwanted sediment deposition and negatively impact water quality. They are also time-consuming to build and cost billions to construct, maintain and repair.

Increasingly, engineers and planners are starting to pay more attention to the potential of “Nature and Nature-Based Features” (NNBFs) as environmentally friendly solutions—like mangrove forests, beach dunes, coral reefs and wetlands—that fulfill the same roles as an important weapon in the fight against coastal storms and flooding. 

Pea Island NWR dunes Cape Hatteras

D. Rex Miller

NNBFs include natural defenses and human-built features that mimic them. Using NNBFs in coastal development decisions can therefore mean constructing new ones or protecting existing natural ones. NNBFs are often cheaper and require less maintenance and management. They can also make communities more resilient to climate change by adapting to changes in the environment. They are part of the larger concept of “green infrastructure,” or attempting to harness nature’s resilience to solve human problems. And its not all-or-nothing – NNBFs can complement artificial coastal infrastructure. 

NNBFs like wetlands are essential to protect coasts from storm surges because they can store and slow the release of floodwaters, reducing erosion and damage to buildings. One study found that salt marshes can reduce wave height by an average of 72%. Coral reefs can serve as a barrier and reduce wave height by an average of 70%. These reefs protect coastal cities near them such as Honolulu and Miami, saving lives and preventing monetary damage.

Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki from Diamond Head

Megan Joyce/Defenders of Wildlife

 
When Superstorm Sandy slammed the Northeast in 2012, homes on beaches fairly near to sand dunes were protected by these natural buffers, which can blunt the force of waves and wind. In many cases, homes on beach areas where dunes had been removed (often to improve ocean views) were completely destroyed by Sandy. Removing many of the mangroves that lined Biscayne Bay in South Florida may have helped spur economic development. However, it also removed another natural barrier against storm surge. This increased vulnerability of homes and businesses to the hurricanes that frequently hit Miami. Coastal communities in Indonesia hit by the devastating 2004 tsunami that had removed their mangrove forests suffered more damage and more lost lives than areas where mangroves had been allowed to remain. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently working on a number of projects that look at features like mangroves and their ability to protect coasts.

Hurricane Sandy damaged Cape May National Wildlife Refuge

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David Bocanegra/USFWS

Breach at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (DE) after Hurricane Sandy

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Lia McLaughlin/USFWS

Aerial photo of damaged homes along New Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy

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Greg Thompson/USFWS

Damage from Hurricane Sandy at Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, homes on the Jersey Shore

Bringing Wildlife Back 

People are not the only ones who can benefit from NNBF. Restoring or protecting habitat can bring back habitat for wildlife and provide space for wildlife to live alongside coastal human communities. This includes imperiled species.

For example, coastal dunes restoration can improve habitat for threatened species like the piping plover, red knot and seabeach amaranth. Restoring mangroves can help protect species like the wood stork and American alligator, and the endangered hawksbill turtle. Protecting coral reefs can help threatened elkhorn and boulder star corals, and ensure habitat remains for the hawksbill sea turtle. People and wildlife can both have space.

Red knots and horseshoe crabs

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Alligator Okefenokee NWR

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Steve Brooks

Hawksbill sea turtle

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Michele Hoffman

NNBFs can also improve water quality. Much of the rainwater and flood water that goes on vegetation or sand will sink into the ground where it is cleaned. Healthy coral reefs and healthy mangroves help improve marine waters. And by avoiding artificial coastal defenses, polluted runoff can be avoided. Improving water quality can help marine imperiled species. For example, manatees in Florida have been devastated by red tide in recent years. Similarly, water quality issues can stress or kill threatened corals that need clear water for photosynthesis. Even species far offshore, like orca, can be hurt by contaminated runoff from development. Creating habitat for wildlife can even have additional economic benefits beyond coastal protection. It can offer opportunities for economic activity like kayaking, fishing and birding.

Corals at Barren Island, Palmyra Atoll

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Andrew S. Wright/USFWS

Scenic Mangroves on the Bear Lake Canoe Trail Everglades National Park

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The Future of NNBF

In recent years, the U.S. Congress has become interested in the potential of NNBFs, instructing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to incorporate NNBFs into coastal defense projects where appropriate. The Corps’ research and development center has taken a leading role in researching NNBFs. Through its engineering with nature initiative, it has developed numerous projects exploring NNBFs’ potential. However, the regional offices have made less progress in taking advantage of NNBFs in their coastal defense projects. NNBFs should be a priority for the Corps and coastal communities around the country – and the world. 

Advocating for NNBFs is part of Defenders of Wildlife’s mission to protect habitat and we believe they are a strong tool for addressing the overall biodiversity crisis faced by the planet. 


More information:

To learn more about NNBFs generally, check out the Army Corps’ Engineering with Nature website. If you’re interested in learning more, Defenders of Wildlife’s Center for Conservation Innovation will be hosting a talk on NNBFs given by an Army Corp’ expert. Click here to sign up to watch it. To learn more about green infrastructure generally, check out ESRI’s Green Infrastructure story map. There are a lot of green infrastructure projects that you can help with at home, such as Defender’s Orcas Love Raingardens project in the Pacific Northwest. 

Author(s)

Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter

Senior Conservation Policy Analyst

Andrew works on wildlife conservation policy at the Center for Conservation Innovation, where he researches and analyzes conservation governance strategies and emerging policy issues, and works with other CCI members to develop innovative approaches to habitat and species protection.

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Saving the oceans — one place where Congress can agree

grist.org
By Francis Rooney and Sheldon Whitehouse on Jun 7, 2019

Republican Francis Rooney is a member of Congress representing Florida’s 19th District. He is a co-chair of the Climate Solutions Caucus and is also a member of the Oceans Caucus.

Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse is a U.S. Senator serving Rhode Island. He is a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a Co-Chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus.

Human beings have not always been good stewards of our oceans. We have overexploited their natural gifts, polluted their waves with garbage, acidified them with carbon dioxide, and threatened their shores with offshore drilling.

Thankfully, there is bipartisan support in Washington to take action. We come from different regions, backgrounds, and political parties. Yet we are united by our passion for keeping our coasts and oceans healthy.

In New England, our fishing heritage has long been tied to cod. When the cod fishery collapsed under the weight of foreign fleets, industrialized trawlers, and warming waters, fishermen struggled to sustain themselves. We still have lobster, squid, groundfish, and scallop fisheries, but changing ocean conditions threaten them as well. Warming waters already force lobster and other valuable species to move offshore and northward in search of cooler waters.

In the Gulf of Mexico, fishing supports businesses and recreation, but climate change and human activities threaten the sustainability of these ecosystems. Intensive fishing pressure on red snapper has led to short seasons, the need to rebuild the fishery, and competition between recreational and commercial fishermen. Red tides, likely exacerbated by warming waters and increased CO2, have displaced and killed adult and juvenile groupers, and have been damaging to fishermen and their businesses. Low catches of red grouper last year have concerned fishermen and spurred managers to put emergency reductions in place to protect populations in the Gulf for this fishing season.

Fishing supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in economic impact in Florida alone. Growth in our coastal communities thus aligns with conserving coastal ecosystems and habitats. Fishing management decisions need to keep better pace with the changes our fishermen are seeing on the water. Surveys, modeling, and other federal research should prioritize at-risk stocks and those that are experiencing rapid shifts as oceans warm.

Internationally, the World Trade Organization seeks a new agreement by the next ministerial conference on the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies. These subsidies too often support illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Pirate fishing operations harm critical ecosystems through damaging fishing practices, overfishing shared stocks, and overexploiting waters of foreign nations. Those operations also contribute to other serious problems, like human trafficking and forced labor. Ending these subsidies could help to reduce those harms.

While we’re taking fish from the sea, we’re unfortunately filling their bellies with plastic and other garbage from land. Each year, around 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans. Ten rivers serve as the pathway to the ocean for more than 90 percent of that trash. Most of these rivers run through rapidly developing economies in Asia, where growth and production have outpaced waste management. If we do nothing, by 2050 plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean.

Thankfully, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are coming together to do something about all this. Last October, we saw the bipartisan Save Our Seas Act signed into law. The bill brought together congressional cosponsors from across the political spectrum and supporters from the business and conservation communities. It is now boosting the federal government’s domestic and international response to the millions of tons of plastic waste and other garbage that litter our shores and pollute our oceans, endanger wildlife, and disrupt commerce.

While only a first step, the Save Our Seas Act set the stage for additional efforts on reducing plastic pollution in and around our oceans. We are now focusing on further strengthening the United States’ international efforts to combat marine debris and to improve domestic waste management and prevention.

Just as we don’t want our oceans and coasts littered with waste, we don’t want them soiled with oil, either. Last month, the Trump administration delayed plans to open new coastline to offshore drilling. However, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management continued to review applications for permits to conduct seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean — a precursor to oil and gas drilling. We are united in the fight against opening up more of our ocean to oil and gas drilling. The risks are just too great.

It is hard to ignore that we have serious challenges to overcome, but we don’t want to leave readers pessimistic about our oceans. We know that when you give nature the chance, it can recover and even bloom again. We are committed to working with our colleagues to ensure that our oceans and the communities that depend on them stay healthy.

And we are not alone. People around the globe will celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8. In the lead-up, hundreds of ocean and coastal researchers, advocates, and industry leaders, convened by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, converged in Washington, D.C., for Capitol Hill Oceans Week. We had the opportunity to join these leaders in confronting the challenges facing one of our most precious global resources.

We can find common ground — across political lines, between private industry and environmental NGOs, and from all over the country — to protect our marine resources. Together, we can protect our oceans for generations to come.

https://grist.org/politics/saving-the-oceans-one-place-where-congress-can-agree/

5 Things to Know About the State of Our Oceans for World Oceans Day

ecowatch.com
Tropical fish and turtle swim in the Red Sea, Egypt, an inlet of the Indian Ocean. vlad61 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Saturday, June 8 is World Oceans Day, a chance to honor and celebrate our blue planet. Ocean lovers around the world will attend beach cleanings and other events or join a March for the Ocean to call for an end to activities that harm marine life, like offshore oil drilling and plastic pollution.

The oceans generate most of the oxygen we breathe, provide food and medicine and help keep our climate stable, according to the day’s organizers. They are also home to amazing animals and ecosystems, like whales and coral reefs, that make the earth a more wondrous place to live. But the world’s marine environments face unprecedented threats. Here are five things to know about the state of our oceans in 2019.

1. Ocean Plastics Are on the Rise

It’s well-known that eight million metric tons of plastics enter the world’s oceans every year. But a study published in April gave new insight into how plastic pollution has proliferated in the past six decades. Researchers found that equipment used to collect plankton had increasingly been disrupted by plastic since it first got entangled with fishing gear in 1957.

“The message is that marine plastic has increased significantly and we are seeing it all over the world, even in places where you would not want to, like the Northwest Passage and other parts of the Arctic,” Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, England researcher Clare Ostle told The Guardian.

2. Plastic Pollution Threatens Marine Oxygen Production

All that plastic floating in the ocean kills one million birds and more than 100,000 marine mammals every year, according to the UK government. But a study published in May found it could have a disturbing impact on some of the ocean’s smallest life forms as well. Scientists exposed the ocean’s most abundant photosynthetic bacteria to chemicals that leach from plastic bags. The chemicals made it harder for the bacteria to grow and produce oxygen. This is scary because these bacteria are responsible for 10 percent of the oxygen we breathe.

“This study revealed a new and unanticipated danger of plastic pollution,” paper co-author and Macquarie University research fellow Lisa Moore told The Independent.

3. Global Warming Is Already Putting Fish in Hot Water

The oceans and the creatures in them are also threatened by climate change, and a groundbreaking study published in March found that rising ocean temperatures are already shrinking fish populations. A University of Rutgers-led team discovered that sustainable fish populations had declined by an average of 4.1 percent over 80 years. That might not sound like a lot, but it actually amounts to 1.4 million metric tons of fish lost between 1930 and 2010. And in some regions the decline was more extreme: sustainable fish populations fell by 34 percent in the northeast Atlantic and 35 percent in the Sea of Japan.

“We were stunned to find that fisheries around the world have already responded to ocean warming,” study co-author and Rutgers’ Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources associate professor Malin Pinsky told Rutgers Today. “These aren’t hypothetical changes sometime in the future.”

4. Marine Heatwaves Act Like Underwater Wildfires

Ocean warming doesn’t just damage individual species. It devastates entire ecosystems. A first-of-its-kind study published in March found that the number of ocean heat wave days per year is surging: The number has increased by more than 50 percent between two 29-year time chunks compared by the scientists. This has particularly harmed coral reefs in the Caribbean, Australian sea-grass beds and California’s kelp forests.

“You have heatwave-induced wildfires that take out huge areas of forest, but this is happening underwater as well,” lead author Dan Smale at the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, UK told The Guardian. “You see the kelp and seagrasses dying in front of you. Within weeks or months they are just gone, along hundreds of kilometres of coastline.”

5. Ocean Acidification Makes Life Even Harder for Coral Reefs

Marine heat waves threaten coral reefs by causing coral bleaching, in which corals expel the algae that give them color and nutrients. But the greenhouse gasses we are pumping into the atmosphere also endanger coral in another way. They cause ocean acidification, which is what happens when carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater and changes its chemical makeup. This reduces the amount of calcium carbonate that animals like corals use to repair themselves after stressful events like bleachings. In research published just last week, scientists found that some corals and algae they studied were not able to adapt to more acidic waters. This could alter the composition and function of reefs.

“We found that corals and coralline algae weren’t able to acclimatize to ocean acidification,” study author Malcolm McCulloch said.

 

https://www.ecowatch.com/world-oceans-day-facts-2638711550.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

We Could Solve World Hunger If We All Made One Simple Change – Here’s How (VIDEO) – One Green PlanetOne Green Planet

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Site of Epic Battle for Midway-More Than 3000 War Dead-Archaeology All Endangered By Trump: Comment Deadline Tonight 11.59 ET (NY-DC Time)

Source: Site of Epic Battle for Midway-More Than 3000 War Dead-Archaeology All Endangered By Trump: Comment Deadline Tonight 11.59 ET (NY-DC Time)

Petition: Tell Congress: Protect Conservation Funding


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Help Protect Seabirds! – American Bird Conservancy


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American Bird Conservancy’s “Together for Birds” Petition – American Bird Conservancy


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Petition · U.S. Senate: Save our Oceans, Ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea · Change.org


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Mexico, Canada, and the US created a “flyway” to save the Monarch butterfly, and it’s working — Quartz


http://qz.com/721657/mexico-canada-and-the-us-created-a-flyway-to-save-the-monarch-butterfly-and-its-working/

1 million endangered sea turtle hatchlings safely to the ocean. Celebrate !!

Serbian Animals Voice (SAV)

cropped-turtle-island.jpg

turtle earth day

This did arrive with us on 22/4 but it is only today, 23rd that we have published.  SAV.

get involved 2

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Dear Mark,

Today is Earth Day.  And since 71% of the Earth is covered in oceans, we consider this Oceans Day as well!

It’s a chance to celebrate all of the marine animals that we are working to protect.

And to say thank you. Your actions — and those of all of Turtle Island Restoration Network’s community members — are saving sea turtles, whales, dolphins and other ocean animals:

  • You have supported nesting beach protection projects in Texas, Nicaragua and Costa Rica that have returned more than 1 million endangered sea turtle hatchlings safely to the ocean.

  • More than 25,000 people so far have signed our petition calling for an end to the whale and dolphin-killing California Driftnet Fishery.  Legislation to phase out the fishery is currently…

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Turn Guantanamo Bay into Animal Conservation Facility

Using Guantanamo Bay for a good cause could help redeem its terrible reputation, bring countries together and allow scientists to learn more about sea life. Please urge President Obama to support using Guantanamo Bay as an international marine research facility.

Source: Turn Guantanamo Bay into Animal Conservation Facility

Snack and Personal Care Companies Commit to End Palm Oil Deforestation – Who is Taking Action? | One Green Planet

 

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The biggest forest fires of the century tore through Indonesia just six months ago. They reduced millions of hectares of vibrant, living tropical rainforest, and peatland to smoking ash — and with it, some of the last habitat of Indonesian orangutans.

A forest fire in Indonesia may seem like a far away issue, but for the past ten years, our investigations have exposed how the everyday products in our cupboards and on our bathroom shelves have direct links to the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests.

Haze in Central KalimantanDespite the haze, children in Central Kalimantan continue to play without any protection. Indonesian forest fires impact the health of millions, causing heart and lung problems, and weakening newborn babies.
Getting Corporations to Take Responsibility

For the average person, being a part of the solution isn’t as simple as making a few changes to your shopping habits. From Doritos to Colgate to Johnson & Johnson baby soap, palm oil is in so many products that it’s hard to avoid. Even if you could, palm oil isn’t the problem — deforestation is the problem, and that will only stop when corporations take responsibility for the palm oil they buy.

Burned Land Crime Scene in Central KalimantanA crime scene: burned peatland and forest remains, planted with oil palm seedlings.

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So when hundreds of thousands of Greenpeace supporters took action, they took the fight straight to the companies responsible. Using the power of mass pressure, one by one we began forcing the biggest brands that use palm oil or paper from Indonesia to promise to protect rainforests.

Then, a breakthrough. Two years ago, a host of massive brands — including Mars, Mondelez and Procter & Gamble committed to our campaign. Suddenly the biggest brands on the planet were all saying the same thing — that the destruction of these amazing forests had to stop.

And that’s not the end of the good news! This kind of collective action from corporations — with their immense purchasing power — puts huge pressure on traders and producers working directly on the ground. Companies like Wilmar International and Golden Agri-Resources may not be household names, but they’re giants in the industry. And because of this, they agree to end deforestation — an incredible result!

Damming Activity in Central KalimantanEnvironmental activists unfurl a banner in an area affected by forest fires in Central Kalimantan.
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Now, the best part of a successful campaign like that is getting to see the real results: Protected forest, healthy orangutans, and an end to rampant deforestation and forest fires. That’s why we have to make sure the companies are keeping their promises.

So last December, Greenpeace contacted 14 massive companies to find out how they were getting on with their commitments. What we found was a bit alarming. Only a few companies are making significant headway towards ensuring that there is no deforestation in their palm oil suppl

It turns out, some companies might think that making a promise is easy and that no one’s going to notice if they don’t keep it.

nexus-scorecard-facebook
Out of all the companies we surveyed, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo show the poorest performance and are failing to keep the “no deforestation” promises they made to their customers. Tell them to up their game now.
The Time to Act is Now

The truth is, we can’t afford to wait. Unbelievably, deforestation rates in Indonesia are actually increasing, instead of decreasing. And those huge fires from six months ago? They’re due to return in just a few months.

Orangutan Rescued in West KalimantanOtan, a seven-month-old orangutan who was rescued from the forest fires.

The palm oil industry is still a leading cause of all this destruction. And what’s even more frustrating is that palm oil can be produced responsibly. One amazing project we’ve been working with is a community in Dosan, Sumatra that is producing palm oil and protecting and restoring the surrounding rainforest. And there are lots of other schemes like this in Indonesia that need support.

It’s so important that these companies step up and deliver. Everyone knows what needs to happen, and how — so don’t let them get away with empty promises. Demand real change and real action on the ground.

One Year in American Junk Mail | TakePart

OneYearInJunkMail_v3_INLINE1http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/1/19/infographic-paper-waste?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2016-01-20

Keep Colorado coal in the ground. · Causes

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