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White House makes green infrastructure key to climate resilience

Along with designating the San Gabriel National Monument, last week the White House launched a series of initiatives that "build community resilience by strengthening America's natural resources and supporting green infrastructure."

What's important is the Obama administration's commitment to restoring ecosystems as a key way to address climate change, and actually measuring the carbon they sequester: forests, grasslands, wetlands and coastal areas. This approach also integrates natural systems into our everyday urban lives.

The Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda is a first of its kind, comprehensive commitment across the federal government to support resilience of our natural resources, says the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Like FEMA's new policy, the initiatives spring from President Obama's State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

"States, cities, and communities depend on America's bountiful natural resources, and climate change is putting many of these vital resources at risk," read the statement last week. "By investing in smart strategies for conserving and restoring our lands and waters, we can help make communities more resilient to climate impacts while slowing the harmful effects of carbon pollution. Similarly, investments in green infrastructure can help communities better prepare for the impacts of climate change while also improving water quality and community health."

Among the long list of initiatives:

  • The Army Corps of Engineers is developing quantitative estimates of how much carbon is stored on the 20 million acres of land and water it manages.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers is updating a model to assess coastal vulnerability, so far finding that a third of its projects are vulnerable to climate change
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is supporting over 300 projects that protect coastal communities from sea level rise.
  • Tall Wood Competition: design innovative wood products for high-rise building construction that supports sustainable forestry.
  • Coastal Salt Marsh Restoration
  • Engaging communities to grow urban forests

The American Forest Foundation announced $10 million for a program that will help private forest owners maintain their land sustainably.

Many other climate announcements were made over the summer. Here are all the initiatives from last week.

The original version of this article appeared at Sustainable Business. Image of interconnected stormwater retention ponds in Glendale, Wisc., by Aaron Volkening via Flickr. Learn more about building urban resilience at VERGE SF, Oct. 27-30.

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