Instead of responding to predictions of increased flooding and extreme heat with hard infrastructure, Simon Fraser University (SFU) researchers are calling on cities and communities to maintain and restore ecosystems.
"Urban ecosystems play a crucial role in the fight against climate change, helping us adapt to climate change impacts such as flooding and heatwaves, while reducing emissions," said Deborah Harford, SFU’s Adaptation to Climate Change Team Executive Director.
According to researchers, building hard infrastructure to respond to climate change is a costly solution for cities. However — a less costly solution — ecosystems help absorb floodwaters, absorb and store carbon, and reduce the impact of extreme heat. Ecosystems are also credited with increasing property values and improving community health.
Unfortunately, lack of communication is at the heart of why ecosystems are rarely maintained, according to the SFU study. Because many ecosystems tend to cross municipal borders, cities and communities fail to collaborate with each other concerning issues of upkeep.
"It's crucial that we resource our cities now to increase their capacity to adapt to climate change while reducing emissions, and ecosystem restoration can form an important component of this approach," said Harford.