Ecosystems contribute to reducing the risks of disasters in multiple and varied ways. Healthy ecosystems such as wetlands, forests and coastal areas, including mangroves and sand dunes reduce vulnerability to hazards by supporting livelihoods, while acting as physical protection to reduce the impact of hazard events.
Environmental degradation reduces the capacity of these ecosystems to meet communities' needs for food and other products and to protect them from hazards by providing services such as flood regulation, slope stabilization and protection from storm surges. It also greatly reduces a landscape's ability to sequester carbon - a crucial element in climate change mitigation.
The most vulnerable are often those who are most dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. Ecosystem restoration and sustainable management of natural resources can therefore play a critical role in people's ability to prevent, cope with and recover from disasters. Ecosystems provide livelihood benefits such as food, firewood, clean water, fibers and medicines that contribute to the overall resilience of communities to disasters and climate change.