Lessons from nature’s sea defences

Natural sea defences usually offer better protection than man-made structures, US researchers find.

The number of people at risk from storms and rising sea level could be halved by conservation of natural coastal habitat. Natural sea defences such as wetlands or sand dunes can reduce the impact of storm surges, and are a cheaper option to coastal engineering.

The study concludes that heavily populated areas will continue to need structural protection, but natural habitats provide an effective defence in many situations.