Journal Article

Measuring Resilience to Climate Change: The Benefits of Forest Conservation in the Floodplain

Abstract

The economic costs of flooding have increased in the United States over the last several decades, largely as a result of more people and property, and more valuable property, located in harm’s way (Pielke and Downton 2000). In addition, climate models predict increases in the intensity of precipitation events in many locations (Wuebbles and Hayhoe 2004; IPCC 2012). How such precipitation changes will alter flood risks is not well understood, but could lead to greater flood damages in the future. Given these findings, various stakeholder groups have suggested it is time to think more seriously about relocating people out of harm’s way or preventing development of the riskiest areas. This has been suggested for certain coastal areas in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but inland floodplains are also a focus of conservation efforts. Conservation lands in floodplains and other hazardous areas not only can reduce exposure and thus bring down disaster costs but may provide an array of other ecosystem services.