Edited by Matthias Ruth
Chapter 17: Valuing estuarine and coastal ecosystems for storm protection
Since hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, attention has focused on how the continuing worldwide loss of estuarine and coastal ecosystems (ECEs) is making coastlines and coastal communities vulnerable to flooding and storm events (Arkema et al. 2013; Braatz et al. 2007; Cochard et al. 2008; Day et al. 2007). There is mounting evidence that a variety of ECEs, including marshes, mangroves, nearshore coral reefs, seagrass beds, oyster reefs, barrier islands, and sand beaches and dunes, provide some type of protection against storms and coastal floods, mainly through their ability to attenuate waves or buffer winds (Barbier 2011; Barbier et al. 2008, 2011; Bouma et al. 2010; Gedan et al. 2011; Koch et al. 2009; Paul and Amos 2011; Shephard et al. 2012). However, to date, there are few economic studies that estimate the protective value of many systems, although some estimates are beginning to emerge for marsh and mangroves (see Table 17.1). Although many more studies exist than those indicated in Table 17.1, there are problems of reliability in the estimates of protection value produced by some of these earlier studies because of the arbitrary valuation methods often employed (Barbier 2007, 2011). The protective value of ECEs is directly related to their ability to attenuate, or reduce the height, of the storm surges and waves as they approach shorelines (Table 17.1).
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