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A new report from the White House offers federal recommendations for supporting nature-based solutions to fight climate change, citing USGS coral reef research in Florida and Puerto Rico.

The report, “Opportunities to Accelerate Nature-Based Solutions: A Roadmap for Climate Progress, Thriving Nature, Equity, & Prosperity”, was delivered to the National Climate Task Force at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of the Parties (COP27) in November 2022. 

Deep knowledge, science, and experience have yielded a wide variety of nature-based solutions, the report notes. These solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage, or restore natural or modified ecosystems to address societal challenges. Largely untapped but nonetheless powerful, nature-based solutions are critical tools in the fight against climate change, nature loss, and inequity. 

Citing USGS coral reef research on nature-based solutions, the report states that coral reef restoration in Florida and Puerto Rico has the potential to provide $272.9 million annually in direct and indirect flood damage savings—dollars that will compound in value over time. 

A number of USGS researchers in the Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resource Program provided scientific review of the White House report, at the request of the USGS Director's office. 

“It is an honor that the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy has acknowledged our work on the role that nature-based solutions, such as coral reef restoration, can play in reducing the risk to, and thus increasing the resiliency of, coastal communities,” said Curt Storlazzi, USGS Research Geologist and lead author of the coral reef studies cited in the report. “Importantly, the report acknowledges that those benefits are not only cost-effective and will increase in time, but also disproportionately help vulnerable, generally underserved, native communities in coastal areas.”

 

Video Transcript
USGS Research Geologist Curt Storlazzi explains how healthy coral reefs in places like the Caribbean and Pacific Islands serve as national, natural infrastructure. Restored reefs not only support critical biodiversity and coastal economies—they also reduce flood risks to coastal communities from storms and sea-level rise. Listen to the audio-described version.
Video Transcript
Three new reports from the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of California and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration quantitatively assess how coral reefs damaged by those hurricanes increased flood risk significantly, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Video Transcript
Along reef-lined shores of the Caribbean and Pacific Islands, USGS researchers study how stressors such as warming surface waters, nutrient runoff, and increasingly powerful storms impact the growth and health of reefs. Their work adds to a growing shift toward nature-based climate solutions: By working with nature and restoring degraded reefs, humans can reduce present and future risks to coastal communities and save coral reef ecosystems at the same time.  Listen to the audio-described version.

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