Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research

Nature based flood defense in tropical systems

Nature-based flood defences use natural dynamics and ecosystem services to reduce flood risk in order to create natural barriers or breakwaters to protect the hinterland from flooding. For example, mangroves moderate the impact of strong wind conditions on tropical coastal settlements but also provides safe nurseries for marine life.

Restoring mangroves is an example of nature-based flood defense. Photo: Wuttipong-Kenphaeng

Vulnerable coastlines

Caribbean islands and coasts are highly important for tourism, and thus driving local economies. However, these valuable coastlines are also sensitive to enhanced erosion by sea level rise and increasingly strong wind and storm conditions. We ask how nature may help preserving the coastlines, making use of natural ecosystems. We aim to understand how ecosystems may protect the coast (e.g. James et al. 2020), as well as how we can restore them at those locations where they are needed. Moreover, we study how to conserve them, by unraveling the drivers of their resilience.

NIOZ field flumes

For example, the effect of using seagrass to save beaches has been studied by using unique field flumes (James et al. 2020 Bioscience), developed by NIOZ