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Weekly Planet: Nature is heart of our recovery

Heather Furman is The Nature Conservancy's Vermont state director. She writes an opinion piece related to partnerships and how climate change, Covid-19, and conservation can bring us together. If you are looking for ways to talk about climate change, this is a good example. If you are wondering how to be more relevant, you might consider a partnership like the one she describes.

If you’ve had a long relationship with nature, you may wonder “am I seeing fewer fireflies, butterflies, and birds than when I was a kid?” Sadly, the answer is “yes.” Since 1970, butterfly populations have plummeted 35%, amphibian populations have declined by 30% and bird populations have decreased by 29% equating to three billion fewer birds since the year I was born. While these facts are sobering, the good news is that conservation action has solutions. As wildlife populations have been spiraling downward, wetland bird populations have been increasing.

Why? Because tens of millions of dollars have been invested in the protection and restoration of our nation’s wetlands, the same wetlands that help filter and clean our waters, store carbon, and absorb floodwaters—by and large, making our communities healthier and safer…

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Meadowlark
Robert Harwood/Audubon Photography Awards

Innovative bill would promote regenerative ranching in California

National Audubon is working to promote land management that benefits farmers, ranchers, and wildlife, and that slows down climate change. How might your land trust work to support farming and ranching, as well as climate reduction practices? Has your state considered something like this?

The program would encourage regenerative agricultural practices similar to those promoted by Audubon’s Conservation Ranching initiative (ACR). The program partners with ranchers to adopt techniques including rotation of pastureland and limited use of feeds other than grass itself. The practices allow a variety of native grasses, with their extensive root systems (a potent carbon sink), to grow and thrive by allowing grasslands to rest and recover.

That, in turn, provides habitat for imperiled grassland birds, whose numbers have declined by 50 percent over the past 100 years. In return, ranchers participating in ACR can brand their meat with Audubon’s “Grazed on bird-friendly land” seal, earning up to $2 per pound more for their premium, grass-fed products…

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Katharine Hayhoe Atmospheric Scientist

What’s the big deal with a few degrees?

Local land trust's projects and creative solutions to climate change speak volumes about how they see their role in the climate crisis.

Are you looking for trusted, interesting, and accessible videos to share about climate change? Timely, thoughtful, and non-technical information is critical.

I recommend Katharine Hayhoe’s Global Weirding videos. Katharine is one of the world’s most respected climate scientists. She lives in Texas and has a strong connection with the evangelical community. Why do I mention that? Because in the U.S., the evangelical community can be anti-climate change. She does a terrific job of explaining climate change and its impacts.

In this one, “What’s the Big Deal with a Few Degrees,” you could post and then add some “pre-text,” connecting the dots to a climate solution.

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Climate Tip Solar
Peconic Land Trust

Climate tip: solar

How is your land trust demonstrating that reducing energy use, and moving away from fossil fuels, is possible and strategic?

[Recently, the Peconic Land Trust] celebrated National Cut Your Energy Cost Day with a look at our own energy costs. The Peconic Land Trust has been working to cut its energy costs through the use of solar panels—which is both economically and environmentally friendly. The net cost of solar is significantly lower than the current cost of utility power on Long Island, $0.09/ kWH to $0.21/ kWh respectively.

During the renovation of the Southampton office building in 2017, 32 solar panels were installed on the roof by GreenLogic. Since then, the panels have produced over 45,000 kWh of energy at a savings of more than $10,000! Power on Long Island comes from a combination of sources including coal and natural gas…

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Climate
CTNC

Building more resilient human and natural communities

Land trusts are increasingly connecting the dots on how climate change is impacting their communities—and working to provide authentic solutions.

Stronger storms, increased rainfall, and periodic droughts are all part of our new normal. Conservation Trust for North Carolina is rising to the challenge our changing climate brings by partnering with affected communities to identify ways that healthy lands can better support and protect people. Including land conservation in larger plans for reducing the carbon output of our state and lessening impacts to communities, we can build a resilient North Carolina.

Conserving land for climate resilience is a top priority for all North Carolinians. Informed by climate science data, we know that taking steps to protect highly resilient property along the Blue Ridge Parkway is valuable to communities long into the future, even as natural areas, wildlife habitat and species change in response to the climate. We are ready to take this purposeful approach….

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How To Solar Now
Scenic Hudson

How to Solar Now

Even if you aren't located in the Hudson Valley region of New York, this tool might be something to replicate where you live. Check it out and see what you think.

Land trusts are realizing that they must support renewable energy if we are going to have a chance at saving the plants, animals, and communities from the worst of climate change.

This web-based interactive tool combines mapped information with education and guidance to help your community proactively plan for smart solar energy development. Using Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping layers, the tool identifies communities’ natural resources—such as forests, agricultural lands, and wetlands—and overlays them with important characteristics for solar development, such as gentle slopes and distance to transmission lines. It enables communities considering planning and zoning for future solar development, evaluating proposals by developers or identifying preferred sites for solar to make smart decisions that bring clean energy to residents while minimizing impacts to natural and community assets…

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Canyon And River
CBS News

70 bipartisan mayors commit to conserving 30% of U.S. lands by 2030

There's another piece of good news: it was announced yesterday that 70 bipartisan mayors committed to conserving 30% of U.S. lands by 2030.

“Seventy of the nation’s mayors have endorsed a campaign dedicated to conserving 30% of America’s lands, waters and oceans by 2030, an effort dubbed the 30×30 initiative.

The mayors represent 29 states, and Washington, D.C. Most serve in a nonpartisan or independent office, while 21 are Democrats and four are Republican. Cities represented include Chicago, Miami-Dade County and Phoenix…”

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katharine-hayhoe
Matt McClain/The Washington Post

Climate ‘champion’ Katharine Hayhoe joins Nature Conservancy as chief scientist

There's some good news on the climate front. Did you read that The Nature Conservancy hired Katharine Hayhoe as their Chief Scientist?

“Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University and prominent climate communicator, is joining the Nature Conservancy as its next chief scientist, the organization announced Monday.

Hayhoe will be stepping down as co-director of her university’s climate center but will still hold an academic appointment while being involved with the environmental group, where she will play a leading role in its global climate advocacy and adaptation work. Her scientific research has long focused on adaptation and resiliency, two priority areas for the Nature Conservancy…”

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Loggerhead Shrike
Roger Baker/Audubon

Protocols for bird-friendly habitat management certification

National Audubon is working to promote land management that benefits farmers, ranchers, and wildlife, and that slows down climate change. How might your land trust work to support farming and ranching, as well as climate reduction practices? Has your state considered something like this?

Audubon and its partner ranchers employ a variety of tactics to manage the land upon which cows graze. Together, these tactics are what leads to Audubon’s certification that certain beef products are produced with bird-friendly land-management practices

To get certification, ranchers follow a set of program standards in four areas: habitat management; forage and feeding; animal health and welfare; and environmental sustainability…

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Upland Sandpiper
Lucy Britton/Audubon Dakota

What in the world is conservation ranching?

National Audubon is working to promote land management that benefits farmers, ranchers, and wildlife, and that slows down climate change. How might your land trust work to support farming and ranching, as well as climate reduction practices? Has your state considered something like this?

“Wild bison were unwitting conservationists. As they roved the Great Plains, snacking here, trampling there, the hefty mammal carved diverse plant landscapes for any species’ nesting, mating, or hunting requirements. When humans substituted these shaggy ungulates for cows, the territory transformed. Without guidance, cattle mow fields to a single height and encourage only a couple plants to rebound. Few birds thrive in this monotony…”

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