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The Influence of Plan Integration on Community Vulnerability and Ecological Resilience to Natural Hazards
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Coastal areas, which comprise approximately 17 percent of the land area and 52 percent of the population of the United States, regularly contend with flooding threats—especially from hurricanes and coastal storms, which are exacerbated by sea-level rise. Flooding is the most dangerous natural hazard, which poses the greatest threat to property and the safety of human communities. A key driver of increased community vulnerability is the rapid and haphazard expansion of development in flood-prone areas. Poorly designed development in sensitive coastal areas causes wetland loss that further amplifies damage from floods, and empirical research suggests that wetland loss may increase the frequency and magnitude of flood events. A primary cause of rising vulnerability is that hazard mitigation strategies are isolated from other community planning initiatives that influence development patterns in floodplains in hurricane surge- and rainfall-based flooding events. A variety of plans (e.g. hazard mitigation, land use, transportation, environmental) guide development in hazard areas, and the ways these multiple and independent plans interact can significantly impact community vulnerability. A well-integrated network of plans that safeguards the natural environment – especially wetlands – can significantly aid in building resilient communities and reducing losses from flood events. Yet, a national study by the National Resource Council concluded that hazard mitigation plans are a valuable tool that can significantly reduce community vulnerability, but that such plans are of poor quality and poorly coordinated with local networks of plans. This study includes three separate, but related, research approaches, which explore these issues by building on the theory and methods of the Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard, a procedure for spatially evaluating local policies as they guide day-to-day planning and development efforts. First, I evaluate the degree to which plan integration addresses flooding impacts and wetlands in Fort Lauderdale, FL and League City, TX. Second, I use hierarchical linear modeling to investigate the influence of a multitude of factors on community plan integration for resilience in six US coastal cities. Third, using the city of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, as a case study, I use the resilience scorecard method to analyze how policies in the Dutch national flood mitigation program – “Room for the River” – are integrated into a local network of plans, and the ways this integration affects physical, social, and environmental vulnerability to flooding at the scale of the neighborhood. This research focuses squarely on problems at the nexus of climate change and urbanization, and seeks to contribute to their resolution by testing and extending the scope of the novel Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard method. Connecting plan integration to flooding impacts and wetland loss may provide empirical support for the contention that plans and policies must be better aligned to reduce community vulnerability. Investigating the host of factors influencing plan integration in a community may suggest a way forward for communities that struggle with issues of ‘siloing’ and plan conflict. Using the resilience scorecard method to analyze multi-scale policy integration in the Netherlands may prove to be a useful extension of that evolving methodology and may offer insight into plan integration (or lack thereof) in a country famous for strong planning and water management.
Land Use Planning
Hierarchical Linear Modeling
Yu, Siyu (2019). The Influence of Plan Integration on Community Vulnerability and Ecological Resilience to Natural Hazards. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from