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Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Economy

Solar Panels And Tractor
Judy Anderson

Solar siting on farmland: lessons learned from across the northeast

We need to transition to renewables as soon as possible to save the lands and waters we all care about. That means a lot of renewables—and they can't all be installed on rooftops and brownfields. With farms going out of business, renewables can help them stay in business if they are done well. You can help people know what that means.

Are you interested in how farmland viability and solar can work together? Would you like to be able to share examples of projects that improve soil health, farm diversity, and stem the loss of farmland? You might be interested in watching American Farmland Trust Northeast’s recent webinar focusing on Connecticut policy opportunities and the various policies in the northeast.

Across the country farmland is being lost at an alarming rate: 2,000 acres of agricultural land are converted every day. With the push to transition off fossil fuels, solar development could take more out of production. But it doesn’t have to be that way. States could invest in elevated, compatible solar that could help farmers and ranchers stay in business and keep the land in production.

See what your region can glean from this webinar. There’s a window to lead on this.

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Sunbeam Over Grassland
Native

Medford Spring Grassland Conservation

“Grasslands store one-third of the Earth’s carbon, and just one acre of grassland can store an estimated 50 tonnes of carbon or more. Yet, in the U.S., over one million acres of grassland are still converted each year, which has the potential to release 50%-70% of the carbon they hold as carbon dioxide (CO₂).

The Medford Spring grasslands in southeastern Colorado are facing an imminent threat of conversion to cropland given its soils are suitable for farming, and cropland rental rates for winter wheat, milo, sorghum, alfalfa, and other row crops, are more than five times pastureland rates in Bent County, CO. A permanent conservation easement will preserve the grasslands and avoid conversion of the land to farming or development. This will prevent an estimated 190,000 tonnes of CO₂ from entering the atmosphere over the next 50 years. This is the equivalent of almost 208 million pounds of coal burned…”

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Golden Grasses
Climate Action Reserve

The Climate Action Reserve

“As the premier carbon offset registry for the North American carbon market, the Climate Action Reserve encourages action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by ensuring the environmental integrity and financial benefit of emissions reduction projects.

The Reserve establishes high quality standards for carbon offset projects, oversees independent third-party verification bodies, issues carbon credits generated from such projects and tracks the transaction of credits over time in a transparent, publicly-accessible system.

The Reserve offsets program demonstrates that high-quality carbon offsets foster real reductions in GHG pollution, support activities that reduce local air pollution, spur growth in new green technologies and allow emission reduction goals to be met at lower cost…”

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Kennebec Land Trust
Brian Kent | Kennebec Land Trust

Sustainability and climate change initiatives

Increasingly, land trusts are recognizing that the public expects an authentic, integrated approach. Small land trusts can help connect the dots in a big way.

In their most recent climate initiative, the Kennebec Land Trust Finance Committee worked with Kennebec Savings Bank Investment and Trust Services to move their investments into a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) portfolio that is aligned with their mission. SRI considers environmental, social, and corporate governance criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact.

As managers of forestland, they use and promote forest management practices that maximize carbon sequestration, including: protecting soil carbon, where about 50% of the carbon inventory is typically stored on a forested acre; promoting native species and increasing plant diversity to improve forest resiliency and carbon storage; harvesting sustainably; and taking a long-term view by growing high-value and larger diameter trees. On the ground, their forestry days at the Curtis Homestead are teaching the next generations…

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Coastal Maine
COURTESY / BRIDGET BESAW, MAINE COAST HERITAGE TRUST

Coastal access, climate change key as Maine Coast Heritage Trust turns 50

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is increasingly talking about climate change to people from all walks of life. They are using personal stories and examples to help connect with shared values, and people are responding in a positive way.

Land conservation efforts by the organization have increasingly taken community strength and health into account, as much as the environment, and conservation’s overall impact on the state’s economic foundation. As the climate changes, that focus is more important than ever, he [Tim Glidden, president of Maine Coast Heritage Trust] said…

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Vermont Forest Carbon
Vermont Forest Carbon Report

Quantifying carbon stocks on conserved land

Carbon market participation will not work for everyone or everywhere. It will work best through project aggregation of properties that are medium (several hundred acres) to large (>1,000 acres) in size, well-stocked, and managed—and where the potential to provide co-benefits that are attractive to buyers in the voluntary market is greatest. Your land trust may also benefit from tracking the development of "aggregated" lands to meet acreage requirements and see how you could replicate it in your area.

Carbon project development in Vermont is compatible with, and in fact would be aided by, participation in other forest stewardship programs. These include forest certification, cost-share by EQIP and the Forest Legacy Program, and Vermont’s Use Value Appraisal (UVA) Program (also known as Current Use).

All three major certification Vermont Forest Carbon: a market opportunity for forestland owners 4 systems in the U.S. (Forest Stewardship Council [FSC], Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and American Tree Farm System) can be employed to meet various requirements under CARB and the voluntary markets, such as the need to have a comprehensive forest management plan…

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Light Through The Canopy
Mass Audubon article

Capturing carbon in Mass Audubon forests

“Mass Audubon is committed to fighting climate change through conservation, advocacy, and education. And we are always looking for innovative ways to make a real and lasting impact. Our recent entry into the California Air Resources Board (CARB) carbon offset market is a prime example.

Establishing a price on carbon is an effective way to harness economic pressure to force carbon emissions reductions, but no policy has yet been implemented at the federal level. The best model is California’s comprehensive carbon emissions reduction campaign, which includes a cap-and-trade program for industries…”

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Footbridge In The Woods
Mass Audubon article

The role of land conservation in fighting climate change

In the coming year, your land trust can help people connect the dots to what they love and how climate change puts it at risk. You then want to help them see solutions. Often these will be natural climate solutions (estimated at 21% of the needed response—if we act fast), including personal actions, as well as policies for energy conservation and renewables.

At Mass Audubon, [their] land conservation strategy is directly linked to climate change mitigation and adaptation. As the largest private land owner in Massachusetts with more than 38,000 acres protected, [they] know how critical land conservation and effective land management is in the age of climate change.

[Their] recent entry in the California Air Resources Board (CARB) carbon offset market ensures that 10,000 acres of forested land will be protected for the next 100 years, ensuring the carbon stored in this critical landscape remains there…

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Solar Partnership
GVLT

Solar for conservation

Land conservation may provide up to 21% of climate change solutions if we modify our management approaches. Transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy—and energy conservation—will be critical. How will your land trust promote all three?

“GVLT is proud to have conserved over 45,000 acres across our region. While protecting land from development and fragmentation is the first step, protecting the ecological integrity of our natural resources is equally as important which is why we’re proud to announce a partnership with On Site Energy. What’s the connection between land conservation and solar energy?

Fish need cold, clean water to survive, and rivers need high altitude snow pack to keep them flowing throughout hot summer days. Ranchers and farmers depend on the availability of that water for irrigation, and wildlife depend on the intricate balance of the changing seasons to maintain viable habitats…”

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MALT Sign
MALT

Can California’s protected farmland fight climate change?

Creating a page on your website dedicated to climate change is a good first step in raising awareness. But you need to drive people to your content: talk about it, post on social media, and share stories. Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) is talking about climate change. How might your land trust do the same? If your land trust focuses on agriculture, perhaps the following would be a good post to share, especially when you add your own pre-text to connect the dots with what you are doing.

“In the past year, the threat of climate change has risen to the forefront of public consciousness. With this growing awareness, many solutions are being offered to avert this crisis—from planting millions of trees to innovating electric car technology to passing state legislation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

One powerful tool to address climate change is putting in action land use planning policies that preserve working farms and ranches…”

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