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Friday Feature: Agrivoltaics — farming under solar panels

The University of Florida Extension featured this short video explaining the positive benefits — and challenges — around elevated, dual-use solar for farm viability. We need conservation groups to start advocating for this as they do for land conservation funding and healthy soil initiatives.

With the push to seek alternative energy sources, solar farms are buying up farm land. Agrivoltaics is the combination of the two, so the land is not lost for food production. There are benefits to partial shade for crop production, such as lower irrigation requirements. The trick is to find the right mix to have both productive crop production and also adequate solar energy production. There are research projects in Colorado, Arizona, and Oregon to evaluate this opportunity that is already being utilized to some extent in Europe.

Check out the pros and cons of combining farming with solar installations…

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Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

In addition to the 30x30 plan outlined in Biden's America the Beautiful initiative, Congress is considering the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, which would allocate nearly $1.4 billion annually to states to implement habitat restoration and conservation strategies.

This bill provides funding for (1) the conservation or restoration of wildlife and plant species of greatest conservation need; (2) the wildlife conservation strategies of states, territories, or the District of Columbia; and (3) wildlife conservation education and recreation projects.

The Department of the Interior must use a portion of the funding for a grant program. The grants must be used for innovative recovery efforts for species of greatest conservation need, species listed as endangered or threatened species, or the habitats of such species.

In addition, the bill requires certain revenues generated from fees and penalties for violations of environmental requirements to be used as a source for the funding…

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Creative Commons

The dire need to combat habitat loss

This new report from the National Wildlife Federation found game species across the country lost, on average, 6.5 million acres of habitat over the past two decades. It is a trend advocates contended will continue unless lawmakers take action.

The modern conservation movement was born out of the hard work and leadership of sportsmen and women who continue to help fund, conserve, manage, and restore natural areas and game populations nationwide.

During the 1800s, the U.S. nearly lost familiar species like mule deer, white-tailed deer, black bear, elk, pronghorn, and wild turkeys to unregulated hunting and market hunting. As populations rapidly declined, hunters led the way to their recovery by supporting ethical, regulated hunting practices…

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Report: Habitat loss causing significant impact on game species

Let's remember that in addition to reducing excess climate polluting gases, floods, and extreme weather, these lands and waters provide critical habitats. Connecting around those shared benefits is important.

new report from the National Wildlife Federation found game species across the country lost, on average, 6.5 million acres of habitat over the past two decades. It is a trend advocates contended will continue unless lawmakers take action.

Per the report, between 65 and 82 million acres of America’s national forests are in need of restoration. In addition to the 30×30 plan outlined in Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative, Congress is considering the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would allocate nearly $1.4 billion annually to states to implement habitat restoration and conservation strategies.

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Political Parties

How to talk about climate change across the political divide

Learning to focus on shared values is key to any communication strategy. This article helps.

At its root, she notes, the climate-change divide isn’t a disagreement about facts. “In a study of fifty-six countries, researchers found people’s opinions on climate change to be most strongly correlated not with education and knowledge, but rather with ‘values, ideologies, worldviews, and political orientation,’” she writes.

Solving the climate crisis will require ending our reliance on fossil fuels, which people believe would involve major sacrifice. “If there’s a problem and we’re not going to fix it, then that makes us bad people,” Hayhoe said. “No one wants to be a bad person.” So instead, people are happy to seize on excuses not to take action. Most are what she calls “science-y sounding objections, and, in the U.S., religious-y sounding objections.” Hayhoe often hears that the Earth has always heated and cooled according to its own intrinsic cycle, or that God, not humanity, controls the fate of the planet. These objections can then harden into aspects of our political identity…

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Elephant Head

Community-level assisted migration for climate-appropriate prairie restoration

Deep-rooted prairies can be one of our natural climate solutions. Yet they, too, will need assistance to thrive. Assisted migration is a topic that's getting more attention in the research community. This is a very science-y article. I think you'll find it interesting.

Given the rate of movements of “climate envelopes,” the principle of use of only locally occurring species and genotypes in habitat restoration is questionable at best. Some local species may be lost entirely if their “climate envelopes” move outside the local area.

Multiple species that grow elsewhere would thrive in restorations if they were able to migrate to new locations, but this is prevented by the speed of climate change and the difficulty of dispersal across fragmented landscapes. To restore the natural process of migration, restorations should include…

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Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren / Flickr

Smaller-brained birds shrink in response to climate change, WashU study finds

WashU says the study is the first to identify a direct link between cognition and animal response to climate change.

“We were really struck by how some species seem to be decreasing a lot more than others,” said study co-author, Justin Baldwin, a Ph.D. candidate with the Botero Lab at Washington University.

And the reason, researchers believe, is rising temperatures. Baldwin said further research could shed light on how exactly climate change has catalyzed the differences in size. Right now, he sees two possible explanations…

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Light Through Trees
Judy Anderson

Earth’s coldest forests are shifting northward with climate change

Forestlands are feeling the impacts of climate change. You can help people understand what that means.

New research from Northern Arizona University shows rising temperatures are causing Earth’s coldest forests to shift northward, raising concerns about biodiversity, an increased risk of wildfires, and mounting impacts of climate change on northern communities…

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Regenerative ranching is better for the environment, but can it be profitable?

All over the country, people are waking up to the importance of soils. Part of that realization is moving away from growing corn for ethanol and thinking about how soil, and animal agriculture, can also work together to slow down climate change.

Ellis tells me that she did the math, and the amount of beef she produces on her ranch in a year is about the same quantity that McDonald’s uses globally in 45 minutes. “I’m this tiny blip on the radar,” she says. “But if I could get all ranchers across the nation doing the job sustainably, then we’d have a lot of clout.”

She says most consumers have no idea if their beef comes from a ranch with environmental goals. “I want to give them that choice”…

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Bee On Yellow Flowers
Judy Anderson

Trait-based filtering mediates the effects of realistic biodiversity losses on ecosystem functioning

The loss of plant species that are especially vulnerable to climate change might lead to bigger problems than previous studies have suggested, according to this new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

We present multiyear results from a realistic biodiversity loss experiment, examining how two key ecosystem functions (productivity and invasion resistance) responded to randomized and realistic (drought-driven) species losses across years with high yearly climatic variation. We show that realistic low-diversity communities do not always have high functioning under the conditions that drove species loss, indicating a disconnect between functional response and effect traits.

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