On February 22, 2023, CSAA Insurance Group announced a $25 million commitment to the California Wildfire Innovation Fund, a climate-solutions strategy that aims to decrease the severity and frequency of catastrophic wildfire by supporting forest restoration-related economic revitalization.
The California Wildfire Innovation Fund was developed by CSAA Insurance Group in partnership with Blue Forest, the non-profit behind the Forest Resilience Bond, which deploys private capital to finance forest restoration projects for wildfire prevention.
“We’re excited to launch the California Wildfire Innovation Fund in partnership with CSAA, because it’s specifically tailored to create strategic value for insurance company investors by aligning wildfire risk reduction outcomes with compelling financial returns,” said Zach Knight, CEO of Blue Forest.
“Through local investment, we can help build the restoration economy for forest resiliency projects, create sustainable jobs, and develop the forestry infrastructure necessary to tackle the wildfire crisis,” he explained.
CSAA Insurance Group was one of the Forest Resilience Bond’s first investors.
“The California Wildfire Innovation Fund is strategically aligned with our support of the Forest Resilience Bond, which reduces risk by accelerating the pace and scale of forest management,” said Jeff Huebner, chief risk officer for CSAA Insurance Group.
“We are confident that this new fund will deliver meaningful outcomes for our customers, our communities, and anyone that recognizes the importance of protecting California from the threat of wildfire and climate change,” he added.
The California Wildfire Innovation Fund is managed by Blue Forest Asset Management, and targets emerging investment opportunities in forest restoration, wood utilization, and wildfire mitigation.
Emphasis is placed on industries and projects that add system capacity, create value for forest restoration byproducts, and unlock carbon offset revenue through carbon storage and sequestration.
“With the success of the Forest Resilience Bond, we saw firsthand the need for a new investment solution focused on adding system capacity,” said Knight.
“The Blue Forest Asset Management platform fills this financing gap, and the California Wildfire Innovation Fund was purpose-built to identify and pursue investment opportunities that strengthen the overall forest restoration ecosystem,” he continued.
Alongside a financial return, the California Wildfire Innovation Fund is expected to deliver numerous environmental, economic and social benefits, including:
- CLIMATE AND ECOLOGICAL RESILIENCE: Processing forest restoration byproducts reduces wildfire-related carbon emissions, provides long-term carbon storage, and helps protect watersheds.
- COMMUNITY SAFETY: Forest management improves fire-fighting access and capabilities, while enhancing safe evacuation corridors.
- JOBS CREATION: Sustainable, reliable employment prioritizes worker safety and well-being in remote, rural areas that may have high rates of unemployment and offer limited economic opportunity.
- POSITIVE HEALTH OUTCOMES: Studies have shown that exposure to wildfire smoke causes respiratory and cardiac-related illnesses. Investing in solutions that reduce wildfire risk improves health among vulnerable populations.
“We consider it our duty to explore industry innovations that will safeguard people and property by minimizing the severity of climate-induced catastrophes,” said Huebner.
“Our investment in the California Wildfire Innovation Fund significantly advances our commitment to forest resiliency from wildfire while generating competitive financial returns, which is a sustainable business approach to tackling important environmental, social and economic challenges,” he concluded.
Blue Forest is a conservation finance non-profit focused on forest restoration.
Since 2018, Blue Forest has managed investor capital through its flagship financial product, the Forest Resilience Bond, which deploys private capital to finance forest restoration projects on private and public lands to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.
Photo of stream restoration team courtesy of Blue Forest.
Learn more about the California Wildfire Innovation Fund and Blue Forest Asset Management.