The Effectiveness of Coral Reefs for Coastal Hazard Risk Reduction and Adaptation

A global meta-analysis revealed that coral reefs reduce wave energy on coastlines by 97% on average, with the reef crest responsible for attenuating 86% of the energy. Coral reef restoration projects were found to cost significantly less, $1290 USD per meter (median cost), compared to $19,791 USD per meter for building artificial breakwaters, making it significantly cheaper to restore reefs rather than build breakwaters in tropical environments. This study supports the role of coral reefs in risk reduction, including shoreline erosion and flooding, and can be used by managers and policy makers to motivate greater reef protection and restoration.

Author: Ferrario, F., M.W. Beck, C.D. Storlazzi, F. Micheli, C.C. Shepard, and L. Airoldi
Year: 2014
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Nature Communications 5(3794). doi:10.1038/ncomms4794

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