:: Storm Mitigation Planning For Your Community Forest

A Community Forest Storm Mitigation Plan is an essential part of a community’s hazard mitigation and emergency management plans and systems. Such a plan should focus specifically on ways to avoid or mitigate the damage trees may cause during a storm or other catastrophic event. After a large event, which may result in a major federal disaster declaration, debris hauling and monitoring represent an enormous cost to impacted communities. FEMA estimated that between 2002-2006, debris removal operations accounted for approximately 27% of all disaster recovery costs (FEMA 325 Debris Management Guide, 2007). Between 2000 and 2010, FEMA and local governments spent over $8 billion in disaster-generated debris removal costs alone (www.resource-recycling.com).


Measuring the caliper size of a mature tree as part of recording
its age, health, and susceptibility to storm damage.

The Community Forest Storm Mitigation Planning Workbook and the accompanying Community Forest Storm Mitigation Planning Template can help your community assess forest storm readiness; mitigate tree risk and reduce tree-related storm damage; and develop a forest storm mitigation plan.

The workbook guides you through how to fill in the template, which serves as a basic framework for developing a Community Forest Storm Mitigation Plan. As the template is filled in, gaps in storm readiness, tree risk mitigation and community forest management are identified. As these gaps are addressed, the plan should be revised and updated. Communities may also find it helpful to work with their neighboring localities to develop similar plans and include agreements to share resources. The planning workbook also provides helpful tips on how to structure a disaster readiness plan, so that it is in compliance when applying for federal assistance for clean-up and recovery costs.


A local forestry nursery with new trees ready to be planted.

The mitigation planning workbook is broken into four main sections, covering:

Community setting:
Every community is unique, from its setting to its structure and governance. Understanding and documenting what may happen will give communities the edge needed to mitigate risks and aid recovery.

Storm preparation:
Advance preparation is critical to reduce the impacts from a particular storm or event. Storm preparation involves key elements, such as:

  • resource assessment
  • mitigation mapping
  • assessing tree risk
  • creating an inventory of equipment
  • establishing advanced readiness contracts and memoranda
  • a communications plan to facilitate storm response and recovery

Storm response:
The most critical time for storm response occurs during a particular event. Knowing how to mobilize resources, designating staging areas, having protocols in place for damage assessments, and accurate record keeping will help a community respond efficiently and effectively. Also, advance understanding of how to get reimbursed for storm damage can ease the financial burden for communities post-disaster.

Storm recovery:
After the immediacy of response comes the long haul of recovery. Communities begin the process of understanding the losses to their forests; assessing their inventory of potential replanting sites; and adding trees back to the landscape through partnerships. The ongoing work of risk management is never done, but can be organized in way that works for communities affected.

Bioswales planted along a street can significantly reduce local stormwater run-off.

Download the following:

Community Forest Storm Mitigation Planning Workbook HERE

The Community Forest Storm Mitigation Planning Template HERE

The Storm Ready Brochure HERE

The Alexandria Case Study HERE

Matt Lee,
Community Landscape Forester


The Community Forest Storm Mitigation Planning Workbook. Download HERE

Storm Ready Brochure

Storm Ready Brochure. Download HERE

Alexandria Case Study

Alexandria Case Study. Download HERE

Debris pile after severe storm damage.

Repair work begins.

Studying a map of tree cover and storm damage.

Tree stump

Community members examining a rotted-out tree recently felled as a precautionary measure.