Building coastal communities, resilience and health at the same time
Text and CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt
The coastal areas are challenged by climate change, both from rising sea levels and from new magnitudes of extreme weather that can cause more damage to coastal areas in a few hours than many years of normal weather. Building a new type of coastal hiking trails can help both villages thrive, protect against climate change and support better thrive, health and life quality for both locals and visitors
In the old days locals would walk the coastline on well build trails in bad weather, looking out for both ships in trouble and signs of less friendly pirates or other approaching the coastlines. Those rescue and coastal trails have helped protect the local villages against threats coming from the sea side throughout history.
Today the same trails can be upgraded to work as a guard and defense against the effects of climate change. This can be done in multiple ways, but there is a few basic things that will be part of any coastal trail that can also protect against flooding.
The basic concept is to combine coastal trails with dykes in sensitive places, that can stop the waves from reaching inland. The good thing about combining the dyke with a hiking trail is that local hikers will come aware of any weakened points in the dyke on their walks, and can help both to report (using simple phone apps ) and keep the dyke in good condition.
Making this kind of climate defense will empower and help build local communities so the locals will be able to take action in critical situations and not be left behind, waiting for uniformed professional outsiders, without any local knowledge, to eventually arrive and try to rescue them from the water.
Keeping the coastline and coastal trails in the commons
Another good thing about combining coastal trails with climate change defense is that these public access trails will keep the critical coastal areas closest to the sea in the commons, so that everybody can enjoy walking along the sea and get all the health benefits of this activity – and at the same time it will make it possible to avoid that the water will break through at any ill kept, not monitored, private property under a storm. Making it possible for the water to break down the defense and reach far inland from just a single small gap.
Climate trails – a cheap solution building up local strengths and communities
Protecting the land with such climate coastal trails could be one of the cheapest and most efficient ways of securing huge land areas from storm flooding and protect them against the changed and more extreme weather patterns that experts believe will hit coastal areas hard in the near future.
And it would not only be something that would benefit the local communities under extreme circumstances, but it would also make these coastal places richer, healthier and more welcoming to visitors all the other days.