Ecosystems for resilience in the face of disasters and climate change
The increasing incidence and severity of disasters such as hurricanes, floods and landslides are leaving more people vulnerable each year, particularly the poor and marginalized.
Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of these climate-related hazards, leading to a higher number of deaths and injuries as well as increased property and economic losses. Human vulnerability to natural hazards is further exacerbated by ongoing environmental degradation, high population densities in exposed areas, increased frequency of extreme weather events and lacking or ineffective government policies.
Environmental degradation reduces the capacity of these ecosystems to provide important services to communities like food, firewood, medicines and protection from natural hazards. It also greatly reduces a landscape's ability to sequester carbon - a crucial element in climate change mitigation.
On the other hand, healthy ecosystems has important roles to play in reducing the risks of disasters through multiple ways. Healthy ecosystems such as wetlands, forests and coastal areas, including mangroves and sand dunes can not only reduce vulnerability to hazards by supporting livelihoods but also act as physical barriers that reduce the impact of hazard events.
The most vulnerable are often those who are most dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. Ecosystem restoration and sustainable management of natural resources can therefore play a critical role in people's ability to prevent, cope with and recover from disasters.
Contact: Radhika Murti, Director, Global Ecosystem Management Programme a.i. (Radhika.MURTI@iucn.org)