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Natural infrastructure projects reduce wildfire losses: Marsh McLennon

13th December 2021 - Author: Katie Baker

Marsh McLennan, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy in California has released new research that demonstrates the financial benefits that accompany nature-based approaches to wildfire risk reduction.

marsh-mclennanThe report uses the 2018 Camp Fire in California as a case study, and shows that community-encircling wildfire buffers of land managed for fire risk, such as parks, playing fields, orchards, or other natural infrastructure projects, can help communities avoid property losses due to wildfire.

Building on previous research from The Nature Conservancy, the Conservation Biology Institute, and the Paradise Recreation and Park District in the town of Paradise, California, researchers found that wildfire buffer strategies and building code updates, taken together, would have reduced the 2018 Camp Fire loss by 42%, from over $10 billion to roughly $6 billion.

Faced with growing wildfire impacts around the world, communities are searching for innovative approaches to reduce the damaging effects of wildfire and increase community resilience.

California, for example, has experienced major population growth over the past 50 years, resulting in an increased interface between wild and urban spaces, and the degradation of natural habitats, leading to increased wildfire risk. Climate change threatens to further exacerbate wildfire and community interactions.

Sydney Chamberlin, Project Manager for Climate and Nature-Based Solutions at The Nature Conservancy in California commented: “In a future that is likely to see increased threats from wildfire, we can use nature-based approaches to strengthen communities’ resilience while providing a host of additional complementary benefits like cleaner air and water, climate change-fighting carbon storage, and improved habitat for wildlife.

“Wildfire buffers are a great example of the risk reduction benefits that nature can provide, showing that we can reduce the risks of wildfire for communities while providing additional recreational, economic, and ecological benefits.”

Jonathan Clark, Managing Director of the U.S. public sector practice at Guy Carpenter, a business of Marsh McLennan said: “Wildfire risk is a large and growing economic burden on communities as the climate in many regions becomes warmer and drier.

“Innovative strategies like community-based catastrophe insurance to mitigate that risk and safeguard the financial futures of those communities are critically important to their wildfire survivability.”

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