Sea Level Rise and Landscape Measures

Sea-levels are rising. Unfortunately, as more and more people move into the world’s cities, they are often becoming more vulnerable to those rising sea levels. Around two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050, and an estimated 800 million people in more than 570 coastal cities around the world are vulnerable to the rise of 0.5 m expected to occur by that date.

Of course, this is a major issue. Cities affected by sea level rise will have to adapt. They can do this either by trying to keep water out, or by learning to live with water at higher levels. There are some new and innovative approaches, but coastal adaptation is nothing new. 

Today, there are three main strategies usually employed:

The first involves ‘hard’ engineering projects to keep water out of cities. Such projects include sea walls, storm-surge barriers, water pumps and overflow chambers.

The second strategy involves making use of natural flood measures – preserving or restoring wetlands such as marshes and mangroves to shape how floods will affect cities, rather than trying to prevent them.

The third strategy involves people – taking measures to move communities to higher ground, and investing in social capital to make flood-risk communities more resilient. Measures can include making cities more porous, with more green spaces, permeable pavements and other such features.

As permaculture designers, we often work with landscapes. The landscape measures we take can not only help us to mitigate climate change, it can also help people adapt to the changes it will bring.

Understanding the role that landscape measures can play in helping mitigate future disaster is just as crucial as planning and planting for the here and now.

If you live in a coastal zone or other flood-prone area, permaculture can help. If you are interested in a permaculture design that will help you and manage the landscape where you live, or want help to decide upon a strategy for your future, please get in touch.

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