It’s a simple but all-too-often overlooked fact: nature helps protect people. Yet, while billions of dollars are spent each year on man-made structures, such as seawalls and levees, very little is invested in preserving the natural infrastructure that we already have. Marshes, reefs, mangroves, dunes and other marine habitats can provide a cost-effective and complimentary way to protect communities from storms and sea level rise by lessening the impact of waves and storm surges. And natural defenses offer other benefits to communities that traditional engineered solutions simply can’t provide, including improved water quality, fish production and ecotourism opportunities. Engineers, insurers and communities are increasingly looking to natural infrastructure to reduce risk. Often the optimal approach for communities is one that integrates natural barriers alongside man-made structures.