A roadmap for climate resilience for the new administration

Conservation and restoration of natural areas can make people more resilient to natural disasters. For example, coastal wetlands and mangroves can dampen storm surges, while vegetation can stabilize slopes. In addition to reducing our risk of disaster damage, natural areas offer a range of other benefits: carbon sequestration, beautiful recreation areas, habitats for native species, better air quality and more. water, and higher property values. Unfortunately, we do not sufficiently conserve natural spaces. We pollute and degrade many ecosystems, which stress climate change, and we rarely prioritize nature-based solutions.

The year 2021 marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade of Restoration, so there is no better time to change course. In keeping with the goals of this effort, and to harness the power of nature to promote climate resilience, the new administration may consider launching a Restoration Corps. Inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps and our AmeriCorps Program, such a body could help young adults find meaningful employment during the economic downturn precipitated by COVID-19, provide training and education on environmental restoration, and help restore North American ecosystems. Some of the restoration work could focus explicitly on efforts that help manage climate risks, such as expanding urban forests in American cities and thinning out fire-prone forests in the American West.

Other federal actions may explicitly prioritize nature-based approaches; for example, the NOAA Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program would receive more funding, while the public and private sectors could cooperate more often to financial approaches that can be successfully scaled. Finally, we need to imagine new lifestyles that strengthen our climate resilience while improving our well-being, such as a Florida community which lives behind its mangroves, enjoying recreation, storm protection and all the beauty of the beach and the mangrove ecosystem.

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