Data_Sheet_4_A Geospatial Assessment of Flood Vulnerability Reduction by Freshwater Wetlands–A Benefit Indicators Approach.ZIP
Flooding is among the most common and costly natural disasters in the United States. Flood impacts have been on the rise as flood mitigating habitats are lost, development places more people and infrastructure potentially at risk, and changing rainfall results in altered flood frequency. Across the nation, communities are recognizing the value of flood mitigating habitats and employing green infrastructure alternatives, including restoring some of those ecosystems, as a way to increase resilience. However, communities may under value green infrastructure, because they do not recognize the current benefits of risk reduction they receive from existing ecosystems or the potential benefits they could receive through restoration. Freshwater wetlands have long been recognized as one of the ecosystems that can reduce flood damages by attenuating surface water. Small-scale community studies can capture the flood-reduction benefits from existing or potentially restored wetlands. However, scalability and transferability are limits for these high resolution and data intensive studies. This paper details the development of a nationally consistent dataset and a set of high-resolution indicators characterizing where people benefit from reduced flood risk through existing wetlands. We demonstrate how this dataset can be used at different scales (regional or local) to rapidly assess flood-reduction benefits. At a local scale we use other national scale indicators (CRSI, SoVI) to gauge community resilience and recoverability to choose Harris County, Texas as our focus. Analysis of the Gulf Coast region and Harris County, Texas identifies communities with both wetland restoration potential and the greatest flood-prone population that could benefit from that restoration. We show how maps of these indicators can be used to set wetland protection and restoration priorities.