Healthy ecosystems such as intact forests, wetlands and coastal areas provide many benefits to local communities including firewood, clean water, medicines, shelter and food. They can also form physical barriers against extreme weather events such as cyclones and storm surges. Biodiverse forests, for example, can protect roads and other infrastructure from erosion and landslides.
According to a study carried out by Costanza et al. on the 34 major hurricanes in the United States since 1980, and published in the journal AMBIO in 2008, the loss of one hectare of wetland results in an average US$ 33,000 increase in storm damage. It also estimated that wetlands in the US contribute US$ 23.2 billion in storm protection services. Another study published in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2013, showed that natural habitats currently protect 67% of US coastline.
The success of ecosystem-based approaches depends on the recognition and uptake of local and traditional knowledge, and consideration of the needs of vulnerable community members such as women, the elderly and the poor. Through effective ecosystem management, EbA contributes to biodiversity conservation and to local economies.