puffin in flight

Climate Change & Conservation eNews


Emily Hague

Interns present climate change solutions to the community

Finding compelling, relatable, messengers to communicate about climate change and its relationship to the lands and waters people love—is one of the most important things you can do. Providing suggestions on what people can do to slow down climate change (beyond donating money) will be key to your success.

Jonah Raether is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is a graduate student at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts studying health science and community health. His research project studied the relation between environmental connection and its impact on human health.

“I knew that I did not just want to work on building trails,” said Raether. “I wanted to get to know the people living here—I came in with that goal.”

Through his research project, Raether created a booklet of interviews sharing the stories of local connections to nature…

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Judy Anderson

Two families lock in a deal to ensure their farmland never becomes home to a warehouse

One of the ways you can talk about climate change is by embedding it into the larger story. This is a good example of an agricultural project that mentions it, in a conversational manner, as one part of the overall benefit of land conservation.

After a warehouse popped up near their properties, two Union Township farmers recently took steps to make sure their land would never be put to the same use.

The Nye and Shuey families put conservation easements on their land deeds, which means the land will have to be used for agricultural purposes in the future, no matter how often it is sold.

“I hate to see these warehouses going up,” said Deb Shuey, who preserved more than 100 acres of her land. “I would like to see this land stay as farmland and not be developed…”

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Solar Panels From Above

Report sheds light on role of land trusts in climate change

Wallkill Valley Land Trust summarized and shared the recent Land Trust Alliance Climate and Conservation Report on their website.

At first blush, putting “open space,” “land conservancies,” and “renewable energy” in the same sentence might seem awkward. But the role land trusts play in addressing climate change via renewables can’t be understated, according to a new report from the Land Trust Alliance (LTA): “Reshaping the Future: Renewable Energy and Land Trusts.”

In the 24-page report, researchers said that at this “critical juncture, land trusts can position themselves as both protectors of priority lands, waters, and habitat and as problem-solvers in helping meet renewable energy development needs. As entities that care deeply about the land, land trusts should also care about climate change and renewable energy…”

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Farm And Barn
American Farmland Trust

We’re halfway there; Montana joins U.S. Climate Alliance

American Farmland Trust is ramping up its climate communication—and it's worth following

Last week, Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced his commitment to join the US Climate Alliance (USCA), bringing the total to 25 states who have made the pledge since the Alliance was formed just two years ago.

With Montana’s addition, the USCA now represents 55% of the U.S. population, an $11.7 trillion economy, and 40% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions…

American Farmland Trust proudly joined the USCA as an Impact Partner in June 2019. As an Impact Partner, AFT lends its technical expertise to help increase the volume of carbon stored in ecosystems; reduce losses of already-stored carbon; and decrease greenhouse gas emissions, specifically sharing policy guidance and implementation strategies for climate-smart practices on croplands and rangelands.

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Field Of Solar

Common Energy has made a generous investment in ADK’s mission to protect New York State’s public lands and waters

Here's an example of a partnership—and messaging about lean energy and conservation. You can help people understand that renewables are critical to the future of conservation. Too often land trusts support renewables but the challenge is to find support in their backyards; to change that land trusts will need to help ramp up renewables in a way that is beneficial to conservation, communities, and climate change... soon.

While the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) isn’t often considered a land trust it has a long-standing conservation ethic and is respected by many. ADK is dedicated to the conservation, preservation, and responsible recreational use of the New York State Forest Preserve and other parks, wild lands, and waters vital to their members and chapters.

This week they announced a partnership as follows:

We are excited to tell you about our new partnership with Common Energy!

With a shared interest in the environment, Common Energy has made a generous investment in ADK’s mission to protect New York State’s public lands and waters.

Common Energy enables virtually anyone to connect their existing utility account to a local, clean energy project. Energy from the project replaces fossil fuel-based generation, lowering emissions and pollution. Each month, participants receive clean energy credits from the project, lowering their energy cost. Enrollment is free and can be completed in a matter of minutes. Common Energy’s program has been made possible through New York’s Shared Renewables Program, which was established by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2015. 

We look forward to working with Common Energy in the months ahead to publicly promote steps that individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint, decrease the community’s dependence on fossil fuels, and lower emissions and pollution across New York State.

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High Def Grasslands
David Mark, Pixabay

So what? Who cares?

Do you find that you, or your local land trust, feels overwhelmed as to how to get the word out about climate change? I know many do. But it's not as hard as you think. Consider the personal, or organizational, values you have. Then start raising the issue centered around what is at risk and relevant solutions. Land trusts are starting to do this, whether it's in their Facebook feeds, posting information in their e-News and on their websites, or hosting podcasts and community meetings. And the business sector is getting the word out, too. There's an opportunity to look at why businesses are stepping up their climate change efforts, even when it might not be as obvious a link as it would be for a land trust. It doesn't have to take a lot of time. Honestly. If you don't have a lot of time, there are things you can do, right now, which will move the needle in slowing down climate change and shifting from "business as usual." That's what the Land Trusts Taking Action emails are all about. What we don't want is for your community to wonder where the heck you and your land trust were when there was still time to do something about it. Being late to the dance won't cut it as this is a situation where the impacts are being, and will be, felt over centuries. We're talking about conserving lands, waters, and the places people cherish for generations to come. Best, Judy Anderson Community Consultants P.S. Let me know what you think about these three examples. I'm curious to hear from you. If you have examples of land trusts and/or conservation groups working to slow down climate change, including communications on why that is important, please email me. I'd love to feature them. You can also share this e-News and people can sign up on my website: community-consultants.com. One of the best ways land trusts can help slow down climate change is by getting people to talk about it and understand how climate change personally impacts their lives and what they love. Climate challenge and solutions Deschutes Land Trust is talking about slowing down climate change The following is from a climate change page on the land trust's website. It's a good example of helping people understand how climate change is a threat to long-term conservation. "Climate change is the conservation challenge of our era. It threatens the Land Trust’s core mission of protecting land for wildlife, scenic views, and local communities for future generations. In that regard, responding to climate change is like an insurance policy for land trusts. "In 2017, the Deschutes Land Trust created a climate change strategy to help guide the Land Trust's work in ways that account for and respond to the impacts of climate change on Central Oregon. Our goal is to implement this strategy as we acquire new land, manage the land we already protect, and engage the community in our work. We also created this page so you can learn about our approach and the effects of climate change in our region..." Read More >> "Most Americans — even in the oil rich state of Texas — say fossil fuel companies should foot the bill for rising temperatures, worsening natural disasters and other damages spurred by climate change, according to new survey by Yale University." — June 20, 2019; Houston Chronicle Taos Land Trust is talking about climate change — every month — in their podcasts. You can emulate them. Your land trust doesn't need to be an expert in climate — nor have all the solutions. Instead, you can help amplify the need for action, including helping attain the goal for 30% natural climate solutions and 70% renewables and energy efficiency. Land trusts of all sizes can make a difference. Here is a land trust leading who has less than five full-time staff.

Why should New Mexicans care about climate change? What will the impacts be on our daily lives and in our communities? How do scientists know that climate change is happening and how do they know what it will impact?

Jim O’Donnell of the Taos Land Trust talks with New Mexico State Climatologist Dave Dubois earlier this spring. They have a whole series of podcasts you might like as well.

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A Floodplain Forest By The Connecticut River In Northampton
Laurie Sanders Photo

Kestrel Land Trust featured: Land conservation is part of the climate change solution​​​​​

Conservation efforts will make a difference—if they go above and beyond "business as usual." However, make sure your messaging continues to clarify that we need to increase energy efficiency incentives and find support for the other 70% of the solution (renewable energy).

“When you think about strategies to prevent more severe impacts [of climate change], protecting land from development may not be the first action that comes to mind. The science is clear that we must reduce our fossil fuel use and curtail other sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Conserving and restoring the world’s forests, grasslands and wetlands, however, is also a critical tool for countering the effects of climate change. Every year, globally millions of acres of forests are cleared for development, grazing or crops. When this happens, most of the organic carbon stored in the original forest is released into the atmosphere…”

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King Arthur Flour Logo

King Arthur Flour calls for action

Given that land trusts make a pledge to conserve farmland, forests, and natural areas in perpetuity, it's not a stretch to see how advocating for energy efficiency is part of their mission. Check out how King Arthur is starting to lead. It's part of your land trust's mission to speak up

“King Arthur Flour works with mills and farmers across the nation to supply home bakers everywhere with some of the finest flours and baking supplies available. It takes a lot of time and energy to transport our products to stores and kitchens across the country, and we are acutely aware of the impact all that transportation has on the environment.

In 2016, the transportation sector surpassed the electric power sector to become the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. In fact, the transportation sector is responsible for nearly a third of all U.S. Greenhouse gas emissions—contributing to climate change and air pollution, and exacerbating public health concerns…

Therefore we were pleased to see Gov. Phil Scott announce that Vermont will join eight other states and the District of Columbia this year to collaborate on developing a regional, market-based policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and modernize our transportation system…”

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Judy Anderson

The Nature Conservancy encourages action

You and your local land trust can begin to talk about climate change impacts. TNC shows how to do this. And, the New York testimony is inspiring, no matter where you live.

“Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today on this issue. The Nature Conservancy is enthusiastic about climate mitigation legislation passing in New York State during the 2019 Legislative Session. First and foremost, thank you Assemblyman Englebright for championing this issue and continuing to call for strong action from New York in leading the nation…

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released its first report detailing past biodiversity losses and prospects for people and natureii. Governments and scientists agree we are exploiting nature faster than it can renew itself.

The IPBES report is a shocking wake-up call. The report clearly shows how rapid deterioration of nature threatens our food, water and health, and worsens the impacts of climate change. Achieving economic and development goals, as well as climate goals, will require tackling this accelerating loss of biodiversity…”

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A Growing Force Of Conservationists

Land trusts engage people in climate change solutions

The Land Trust Alliance has just published an article about land trusts taking action, in a variety of ways, to address climate change with, or within, their communities.

“Last fall lent credence to the adage that bad news comes in threes. First, the United Nations issued a special report projecting severe climate upheaval if current levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue.

Then, on Black Friday, the federal government released Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA), which forcefully affirms climate change is here and now and that humans are the primary cause.

Finally, just as word came that 2018 would likely be the fourth warmest year on record, the U.N. released an emissions report confirming that nations are falling far short of goals set in the Paris climate agreement. (Early in 2019, studies confirmed that U.S. carbon emissions, rather than falling in 2018, rose by 3.4%.)”

That’s an excerpt from a new article by the Land Trust Alliance facing the reality of climate change. The good news is that land trusts across the country are finding ways to inspire change.

The article highlights a wide variety of land trusts, both large and small, and identifies leaders like Brandon Hayes, who directs communications for Openlands in the Chicago region, and who saw last fall’s climate reports as “a chance to extend the organization’s commitment to ‘be bold about climate in our messaging.’ The issue’s politicization is awkward for land trusts, he acknowledges, but climate change is a strategic priority for Openlands—and one it covers prominently: ‘What’s the point of being a leading conservation organization if you can’t speak out on an issue this important?'”

Openlands is not alone. Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Tinicum Conservancy, Kestrel Land Trust, Athens Land Trust, and The Nature Conservancy are all featured in this article. It’s worth reading.

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