Study outlines how natural infrastructure projects can reduce wildfire losses and premiums

A new study from the Nature Conservancy and Marsh McLennan oulines how nature and community-based approaches to wildfire risk can reduce losses and insurance premiums by at least 40%.

Using the devastating 2018 Camp Fire in California as a case study, the report, Quantifying Insurance Benefits of a Nature-based Approach to Reducing Risk: Wildfire Risk Reduction Buffers, 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 and increase access to fire insurance in areas that are currently viewed as uninsurable.

The benefits are magnified when used as part of comprehensive risk management strategies.

The research found that wildfire buffer strategies and building code updates, taken together, would have reduced the 2018 Camp Fire loss by 42%, from over US$10bn to around US$6bn.

“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,” said Sydney Chamberlin, project manager for Climate and Nature-Based Solutions at The Nature Conservancy in California. “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.”

“Wildfire risk is a large and growing economic burden on communities as the climate in many regions becomes warmer and drier,” added Jonathan Clark, managing director of the US public sector practice at Guy Carpenter. “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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