Opportunity Mapping for Nature-Based Solutions: Mitigating Storm Surge and Land Erosion in the Caribbean

Soanes et al. | Nature-Based Solutions | 2023 | Peer Reviewed | Review | https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nbsj.2023.100095


The islands of the Caribbean are particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change due to their low-lying coastal areas and location within the Atlantic basin’s hurricane belt. The UK Overseas Territory of Anguilla is one such island. The predicted increase in the severity of hurricanes and sea-level rise is highly likely to increase the flood risk of already vulnerable island communities. In this study, flood risk and erosion models are used to prioritise opportunity areas for nature-based restoration and to identify those that would have the greatest impact on coastal and in-land flood risk reduction. Two study sites in Anguilla were selected to highlight this ecologically-based modelling approach; Cove Bay and Pond, a degraded sand dune system and brackish pond, and the East End Pond, an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area that floods following heavy rainfall events. At the coastal site, the restoration of mangroves, sand dunes and coral reefs have the potential to provide flood risk reduction up to 500 m inland and protect homes, infrastructure and tourism developments. For the in-land East End Pond, areas of high erosion risk were predominately identified as bare or disturbed land within 1 km of the pond’s basin. Restoration of these areas was identified as having the greatest impact on reducing flood risk. The identification of optimal areas for habitat restoration and modelling the positive impact that habitat restoration can have in reducing flood risk are important tools that can be used to inform the implementation of nature-based solutions and also to advocate and justify such management activities to policy makers and landowners.