The Nature Conservancy

Building bespoke large-scale models to help this US environmental organisation gain an understanding of human exposure to flood risk and the impact of floodplain development.

The Nature Conservancy is a US-based environmental organisation aiming to conserve and restore natural environments. Among their many projects, The Nature Conservancy are exploring the possible restoration of wetland systems that have been adversely impacted by flood defence structures.

Further to this, The Nature Conservancy is also more broadly interested in flood risk, particularly in identifying large scale exposure to flooding across different demographics, and how this exposure may change in the future, given changes to climate and land use management.

Broader challenges include:


How many people are presently exposed to flooding in the USA, and how many will be exposed in the future?


What are the impacts of man-made structures and natural flood plains?


Can any of these areas be restored to their natural state, with the added benefit of mitigating flood risk?


How will the development of protected areas impact the number of people exposed and what are the benefits of retaining protected areas as floodplains?

The solution Fathom have built bespoke large-scale models that allow The Nature Conservancy to explore floodplain connectivity and identify structures that may be removed

Our hazard data have been combined with maps of current and projected population, land-use and GDP across the conterminous United States. This has permitted answers to previously unknown or poorly answered questions: an accurate estimate of exposure in the USA and the mitigatory benefits of avoiding development of natural areas.

The results A number of peer-reviewed papers have been published based on this collaborative research, enhancing understanding of flood exposure in the United States

Furthermore, The Nature Conservancy is able to inform clients not only of ecosystem benefits in the preservation of natural land, but also benefits in terms of avoided flood exposure.

Quote Fathom’s powerful models are uniquely able to support our work evaluating potential nature-based solutions at large scales. Working with them has been great – they are highly skilled professionals who have delivered products on time throughout every phase of our work.

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