Making Nature-Based Solutions Possible with Hazard Mitigation Funding

Nature-based solutions utilize nature, open space, and ecosystems that can provide multiple benefits to communities, including protection from natural hazards. The FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) programs present a crucial opportunity to reduce the risk to communities from natural hazards, while simultaneously reducing communities’ overall reliance on Federal disaster funds. The HMA program includes three grant types for pre-and post-disaster mitigation projects that reduce loss or damage to life and property. All three HMA funding streams encourage nature-based solutions as eligible project types to provide hazard mitigation, while also supporting communities’ environmental, social, and economic goals. AECOM is working with The Nature Conservancy, as well as local communities, to further a collective understanding and approach to capturing FEMA hazard mitigation funding for nature-based solutions. The Nature Conservancy and AECOM have developed a guidebook to help communities plan, apply for, and fund nature-based solutions to flood and wildfire risks. This guidebook is a complementary tool to the guidance provided by FEMA, working to better align communities that desire long-term hazard mitigation through nature-based solutions with the opportunities to fund their implementation. As nature-based solutions offer many benefits beyond traditional quantified benefits, it can be challenging to identify a path forward towards funding. This presentation will define the role that nature-based solutions play in risk reduction and explain how nature-based solutions are a path towards improving long-term resilience using the HMA program. Identifying applicable solutions and associated funding requires a comprehensive approach from initial conception through the full decision-making process.