The Nature Force – a climate resilience initiative backed by 15 of Canada’s largest P&C insurance companies and headed by the non-profit Ducks Unlimited – has revealed more about its plans to use natural infrastructures to mitigate the damage caused by flooding.
Flooding is becoming one of Canada’s costliest disasters, and experts fear that it will only get worse over time. The severe flooding event that struck BC last fall is estimated to have led to $515 million in insured costs as of January. Said flooding event is also the costliest disaster in BC’s history.
Ducks Unlimited believes wetlands are the perfect solution to address Canada’s rising flood threat, and throughout its 83-year history, it has managed to conserve 6.5 million acres of wetland.
"These unprecedented challenges require innovative solutions," Ducks Unlimited project co-ordinator Eric Balke told CBC News.
Blake explained that wetlands can manage water fluctuations by absorbing and slowing down excess water runoff, as well as promoting sediment buildup, which can all help in minimizing flood risk.
"Our river is like a garden hose — you have hard armouring along the banks. It's like putting your thumb over an opening of the garden hose and really forcing that water out really fast. But if you provide space for the water to move, you're pulling your thumb back,” he said.
Blake added that wetlands can also help in fighting climate change by taking carbon from the atmosphere and keeping it in the ground.
According to the director, The Nature Force began planning this month, and one of the areas the initiative has been focusing on is Sturgeon Bank in Richmond. The conservation initiative plans to take sediment dredged from the Fraser River and repurpose it by depositing it on the foreshore at Sturgeon Bank to mimic natural sediment delivery. It also plans to restore a tidal marsh in the area.
Blake also told CBC News that the Nature Force team will continue to identify more areas of concern. The group will meet with communities and local governments across Canada to learn what they need to fight flood risk, and then consult with researchers to figure out how to accomplish those needs.
Formed last month, The Nature Force is backed by the likes of Aviva Canada, CNA Canada, Definity, Gallagher, Gore Mutual, HUB International, Intact, Navacord, Northbridge, SGI, Travelers Canada, Trisura, Wawanesa, Westland, and Zurich Canada.