The Times Picayune reported on the new study released by AMBIO, a peer-reviewed science journal, which found that coastal wetlands provide $23.2 billion worth of protection from hurricane-related flooding in the United States each year. As quoted in the Times Picayune:
"Coastal wetlands provide 'horizontal levees' that are maintained by nature and are far more cost-effective than constructed levees," wrote the authors of the study.
The study also found that:
• Louisiana has lost $29.4 billion in flood protection benefits from the disappearance of 1,927 square miles of coastal wetlands during the past century
• Louisiana lost more than $1.1 billion in benefits as a result of the erosion of 77 square miles of wetlands during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005
Citing the importance of coastal wetlands for protection from severe hurricanes, like Hurricane Katrina, the report concluded that investing in the maintenance and restoration of coastal wetlands will prove to be "an extremely cost-effective strategy for society."
For more discussion on the topic, check out this post on "horizontal levees" over at the Daily Kos, which underscored that the new "study provides a means of comparing, dollar for dollar, the effectiveness of manmade levees and natural wetlands in protecting against what will surely be more frequent and devastating floods."