Oceans and Coasts

How We Work to Adapt to Climate Change

Oceans and coasts are ground zero for climate change, and we're helping people and marine life adapt.

Coasts and oceans are ground zero for climate change. Mangroves, marshes, oyster reefs and coral reefs are already under enormous stress from human activity and climate change is adding rising seas, increased storm intensity, warming temperatures and acidifying waters to the list of threats. All of these factors put marine plants and animals at risk as well as the ability of oceans to provide benefits to people.

But did you know that healthy habitats -- particularly coral reefs -- can protect protect people and property from storm surge, erosion, and floods that result from global warming and climate change? The 2012 World Risk Report outlines just how important healthy coral reefs are in protecting people and nature.

Nature holds some of the world’s best and most practical solutions to climate change – solutions that keep nature and people healthy, safe and secure. Healthy, intact marine habitats like coral reefs and mangroves can protect communities against rising sea levels and storm surges caused by climate change, while also providing people with income from fishing and tourism.

The Nature Conservancy focuses on bringing the best science and latest knowledge to planners, managers, governments and communities so that they can make informed decisions about managing current and future climate change impacts.

Through our marine conservation work, we are supporting communities and implementing tangible solutions on the shore and in the water including:

  • Helping coral reefs become healthier and more resilient to climate change impacts. Working with partners we have trained nearly 500 local managers on coral reef resilience in more than 55 countries. In Papua New Guinea and Indonesia we are helping communities better manage and protect their marine resources and natural areas.
  • Developing tools to help communities plan for climate change impacts. With partners, we developed an interactive tool that helps decision-makers understand sea level rise and coastal storms, visualize the likely impacts and risks and identify options that minimize losses for natural and human coastal communities.
  • Demonstrating how natural solutions can protect communities from climate impacts. Hard engineering options, such as sea walls and flood barriers, are often costly to build and require considerable maintenance. There is increasing evidence that natural areas like mangroves and shellfish reefs can be solutions for slowing shoreline erosion and providing protection, while being economically efficient. We are developing initiatives to demonstrate how natural infrastructure solutions can be used alongside or in place of hard engineering responses.



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