Canadian Underwriter

Diverse coastal protections can help limit storm risk

December 9, 2021   by Canadian Underwriter Staff

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Both constructed solutions like dykes and seawalls and greener approaches like saltmarsh restoration and dune replenishment can help combat financial and social costs that result from severe storms, a new report noted.

“Rising seas, swollen atmospheric rivers and post-tropical storms are a threat to community infrastructure, housing and the safety of those living along Canada’s east and west coasts,” said Rising Seas and Shifting Sands, released Dec. 9 by the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation and University of Waterloo.

The report’s guidance, which is supported by the Standards Council of Canada, the National Research Council of Canada, and Infrastructure Canada, describes two types of coastal protection:

  • Traditional grey infrastructure, which includes seawalls, dikes, barriers and other engineered coastal protections; and
  • Nature-based solutions that depend on, or mimic, natural systems to manage flood and erosion risk. This can include saltmarsh restoration or replenishing beach and dune systems with sand.

The report said the second option can play a particularly vital role in managing coastal flood and erosion risk.

“We can no longer manage coastal risks by endlessly fighting against natural processes,” said report author, Joanna Eyquem, managing director of climate-resilient infrastructure at Intact Centre. “There are real win-win opportunities to work with nature in the long term, with multiple benefits for the community and beyond.”

The report noted experiences in other countries have shown nature-based approaches both help with coastal protection and help improve biodiversity, and carbon sequestration and storage.


Feature image by Traveler