SNAP: Integrating natural defenses into coastal disaster risk reduction

Principal Investigator(s): 

Michael Beck and Jane Carter Ingram


The recent tsunami in Japan showed how even monumental built capital (levees, sea walls and artificial barrier islands) can be overcome by just one severe environmental event. The 2006 tsunami in Southeast Asia showed how natural capital (mangroves, coral reefs) can protect lives and property. Similarly, research and observations in the wake of recent hurricanes that have affected the Caribbean islands and the United States have demonstrated that natural systems can play critical roles in buffering people against coastal storm impacts. This SNAP Working Group will exploring how conserving existing coastal habitat and restoring what has been lost can help protect coastal communities and livelihoods from the impacts that result from storms – such as hydro-meteorological hazards like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina -- and other extreme environmental events. The Working Group is composed of leaders from coastal engineering, conservation, ecology, aid and development. Collectively, they will: 1) Provide evidence on when, where and how investments in natural defenses are cost-effective; 2) Develop practical guidance and tools for decision-makers and practitioners to implement solutions; 3) Identify policy and financial incentives that lead to reduced risks for people and nature.

This project is supported by the Science for Nature and People (SNAP) initiative, generously funded through founding grants by Shirley and Harry Hagey, Steve and Roberta Denning, Seth Neiman, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

More information about this project.