Drought, sea level rise, and flooding are causing coastal and soil erosion. This puts wildlife and their homes at risk, as well as our homes, jobs, and recreation areas too. Good news is we can stop erosion with some great planning and protection!
80,000 acres is the amount of coastal wetlands lost each year to erosion (that’s 7 football fields per hour per day!)
Over 2000 beach nourishment efforts to improve shoreline stability since 1923
4000 billion tons of carbon stored in healthy soils around the world (that’s more than trees and the atmosphere combined!)
30% of land available for food production globally has been lost over the past 40 years.
$400 billion is the annual cost of soil erosion damage globally.
What is happening?
Erosion is a natural give and take process in the environment. Soils and rocks weather away by rain, wind, freeze and thaw. The action of the ocean takes beach sands from one place and deposits them in another. Sand itself is the result of thousands of years of rocks and mountains wearing away. Although erosion is a natural process, as climate change progresses the natural breakdown is faster than the build up.
What are the effects?
We are seeing soils and ocean fronts disappearing faster than we’re seeing them replaced. We’re experiencing stronger and more frequent intense weather patterns. Think stronger hurricanes, higher winds, tornado touchdowns, intense rainfall, or widespread wildfires. Each of these natural forces wear away at the Earth’s surface and soil.
Hurricanes breakdown coastlines. Strong winds and tornados displace topsoil and take down necessary trees to keep soils in place. Intense rainfall washes soils into rivers and lakes causing the rise of those bodies of water as well as all the pollutants that the water has gathered on land. Wildfires strip away plants that hold dirt in place with their roots. These forms of erosion can impact agriculture, food production, water quality, and create inhabitable landscapes.
While there are many different solutions to combat erosion, some of the best ways are utilizing natural materials and promoting the natural systems that already exist. For instance, instead of creating seawalls or other structures that disrupt the movement of sediment, create living shorelines, renourish beaches, and build oyster reefs that imitate the way nature works. These types of thoughtful pivots allow our beaches to rebuild their own natural systems, protecting coastlines from intense water movement.