Blog Post

RFF on the Issues: Using Nature to Protect Florida's Coasts

Apr 1, 2016 | Shannon Wulf Tregar

Last week, officials from Miami-Dade County, the Nature Conservancy, and engineering firm CH2M unveiled two pilot projects modeling how natural defenses such as mangroves can provide protection against damages from sea level rise in Florida, where residents and property are more vulnerable to sea level rise than in any other state.

RFF experts have noted that while coastal natural lands can provide protection from climate change, many of them, especially in Florida, are at risk. RFF’s Margaret Walls writes, “Our research shows that Florida’s substantial investment in conservation will take a hit. Thirty-six percent of the land in Florida’s shoreline counties, or 7.3 million acres, is currently protected and 26 percent of this land—or 1.9 million acres—will be inundated with a 3-foot sea level rise.” RFF’s Carolyn Kousky writes that Pelican Bay, Florida is a potential model for “climate ready development,” noting: “The biggest question along the entire US coast is how to allow migration of natural systems that are squeezed between the rising sea and development.  For extreme rates of rise, even a half mile of wetlands cannot survive in low-lying areas.”

RFF on the Issues connects today’s pressing news with related research and expertise at RFF.