We Provide What Leaders Need

 

Nature-based solutions to support community resilience, job creation, and equity


What's at Stake

 

For too long, cities and towns have grown and developed without fully understanding and accounting for their natural surroundings. We’re working to change that. Truly resilient communities incorporate nature in planning and understand that a healthy environment underpins a robust economy and strengthens equitable communities. We help local leaders understand the links between a healthy environment and public health, jobs, disaster mitigation, recreational opportunities, and critical resources like water supply. With this understanding, leaders are empowered to set policy and establish funding mechanisms that afford environmental protection at the geographic and financial scale required to protect communities. 

Photo Credit: liz west via Flickr

Photo Credit: liz west via Flickr


Our Approach

 

Supporting communities’ climate adaptation efforts

Communities are facing more frequent and intense disasters like flooding and wildfires. We help to identify and manage the risks (financial and environmental) to communities and craft long-term, cost-effective natural infrastructure solutions that provide protection, reduce losses, and minimize taxpayer expense.  Importantly, the burden of these disasters often falls upon low-income and minority residents. Our research and analysis identifies these important connections and proposes more sustainable alternatives.

 

Raising awareness of the value of trails, parks, and open space

Open space and recreational lands are remarkably valuable assets - they provide a wealth of benefits (like water supply, habitat, and enhanced real estate value), support economic development, and improve people’s quality of life. We assess the value of open space both at the urban fringe and in remote wilderness areas.

Our goal is to help communities conserve important public lands that provide co-benefits and improve residents’ quality of life through access to trails, parks, and open space and economic development through the recreation economy. The outdoor recreation economy plays an important role in the transfer of wealth from urban to rural communities, and it supports a more diverse industry based on smaller, more local actors. From Alaska to Washington State, our studies have supported the passage of recreation bonds and legislation that will sustain public lands into the future.

We also focus on the links between healthy ecosystems and human health. Access to recreational open space can lead to reduced health care costs and improved physical and mental health, not to mention increased productivity in the workplace. People need access to nature, and we help communities find solutions to support these critical resources.

 

Improving floodplain management

Naturally functioning floodplains provide important benefits such as flood risk reduction, storm buffering, improved water quality, habitat, and groundwater recharge. Historical development within floodplains has harmed many natural functions and increased the damages to homes and communities. We work with communities and policy makers to rethink the way we plan and manage floodplains. From supporting integration of ecosystem services in FEMA’s benefit-cost analysis for mitigation projects to informing projects that resulted in rebuilding natural floodplains, we work towards solutions that support resilient communities and healthy ecosystems.

 

Photo Credit: Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management via Flickr