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Forest Adaptation

Can forests protect us from flooding?

The forests and waterways that surround our communities act as shock absorbers in extreme weather events—soaking up, storing, and diverting flood water before it impacts homes and critical infrastructure. In the past decade, extreme storms have become five times more frequent in New Brunswick,1 causing unprecedented flooding. As a result, the province has been forced to access federal disaster relief funding more than any other jurisdiction in Canada. These storms and floods will only become more severe as the climate continues to change, while their risks are exacerbated as New Brunswick continues to lose the critical natural infrastructure that has traditionally mitigated damage and which is often overlooked in both economic and risk analyses.

With the support of the Intact Foundation and with partners at the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, we are working to reverse these trends and embracing new financing tools that incentivize natural infrastructure improvements for flood risk reduction.

Flooding is conventionally addressed with grey infrastructure solutions like artificially constructed holding ponds and drainage systems; however, as the benefits of natural infrastructure solutions are better understood, natural infrastructure is increasingly considered as a critical compliment to grey infrastructure.

Generating both the research and enthusiasm to value the Acadian forest as critical natural infrastructure will protect watersheds from flooding while ensuring these landscapes are properly valued and protected – limiting the development, clear-cutting, and habitat loss that contribute to flooding and climate change.