Coral Reefs Can Reduce Floods And The Costs Related To Them


Proper coral reefs preservation would save hundreds of millions of dollars in coastal areas around the world, according to a new study. Coral reefs serve as natural submerged breakwaters that reduce flooding. They are capable of destroying the waves and dissipating their energy, so they are the first line of defense. A study published this week in Nature Communications analyses the number of people and properties that find protection in these habitats. Also, the work assesses the consequences of the coral reefs disappearance.

The study compares the current floods with those that could occur in coastal areas if coral reefs of up to one-meter-high would die, a fact that is already happening on a global scale, to some extent.

“Unfortunately, today, the height and complexity of the world’s deep reefs are already being lost. That’s why we are witnessing increased flood-related damage to many tropical coasts,” says Michael W. Beck, a marine scientist at The Nature Conservancy and a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, USA.

Consequences of coral reefs loss

Without these natural barriers, the damage caused by floods would double, which would mean almost 4 billion dollars, and the costs of storms would triple. When scientists added sea level rise into the equation, floods could quadruple the costs in the affected area, while in the cases of intense storms, flood damage could increase by 91%, to a total of 272 billion dollars, globally.

The countries that would benefit most from the conservation and restoration of the coral reefs would be Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico, and Cuba.

Considering the devastating impact of tropical storms in recent years, such as Hurricanes Irma and Maria and Typhoon Haiyan, the effects could have been much worse if coral reefs wouldn’t have been existing.

Unfortunately, corals face threats such as coastal development, sand and coral exploitation, overfishing and destructive fishing, storms, and coral bleaching.

The study provides clear evidence of why coral reefs preservation should be conducted better.


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