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Solar Panels
Unsplash

Utility-scale solar energy can be a tool for conservation, economic development

While many land trusts are concerned about climate change, few are messaging about solar in a manner that promotes larger-scale developments that work towards wildlife habitat, water absorption, and farm viability. Natural climate solutions will falter if we don't slow down the use of fossil fuels, quickly. Here's an example of an organization taking a proactive approach.

To put it plainly, these proposed projects will not destroy the natural environment nor negatively impact the watershed if they are approved and built in line with Linn County’s existing ordinance for solar energy projects. In fact, with a diverse mix of native grasses and wildflowers cultivated on-site, these proposed projects can significantly improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitat for wildlife and pollinators, going a long way to restore Iowa’s landscape.

Furthermore, by using wildlife-style fencing instead of traditional chain link fencing, these sites can be a home for upland nesting birds such as ring-necked pheasants, quail, and other grassland birds like the dickcissel…

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Forest Path
Creative Commons

Cold Hollow to Canada

Cold Hollow to Canada's mission is to maintain ecosystem integrity, biological diversity, and forest resiliency throughout the Cold Hollow to Canada region, with a focus on community-led stewardship and the conservation of our working landscape in the face of a changing climate.

When a hundred community members came together in late 2008 to discuss the future of their shared landscape, no one in the room had an inkling of what might come of it…

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Sunset
Unsplash

The forest carbon cooperative: A first of its kind

Carbon markets are getting a lot of press these days. How is your land trust thinking about the role of carbon markets as part of its conservation strategy?

Ten landowners, managing 7,500 acres of forestland in the northern Green Mountains, are part of the first forest carbon cooperative in the US. In partnership with Cold Hollow to Canada, Vermont Land Trust (VLT) has helped these landowners enroll in the voluntary carbon market and find buyers for the carbon credits.

Some businesses, individuals, and institutions buy carbon credits as a way to reduce the impact of the pollution they create. In working together, the landowners were able to spread out the costs of participating in the carbon market, which has been a barrier for owners of small woodlots…

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Lentils
Flickr

Welcome to the Resilient Land Mapping Tool

This map is really interesting. I'd love to hear what you think...

Newly available forest carbon datasets allow conservation organizations to estimate the impact of land protection projects on carbon storage and sequestration. Step-by-step guidance walks through how to assess current and future carbon on a single property, or across an entire service area, using data that is freely available through The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient Land Mapping Tool.

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Forest
Unsplash

Six simple steps: Evaluate the contribution of your land protection project to a low carbon future

Newly available forest carbon datasets allow conservation organizations to estimate the impact of land protection projects on carbon storage and sequestration. The Open Space Institute (OSI) developed this guide to help groups that protect and steward land determine how much carbon a forest stores today, and how much additional carbon could be sequestered by 2050.

The step-by-step guidance walks through how to assess current and future carbon on a single property, or across an entire service area, using data that is freely available through The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient Land Mapping Tool.

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After A Fire Water
REUTERS/Forrest Czarnecki

Water quality after a wildfire

The United States relies on water originating on forested land for about 80% of its freshwater supply, according to this government report.

“About half of the water supply in the southwestern United States is supplied by water from forests, which generally yield higher quality water than any other source. Approximately 80 percent of the freshwater resources in the U.S. originate on forested land, and more than 3,400 public drinking-water systems are located in watersheds containing national forest lands…”

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Misty Hillside
Unsplash

U.S. West faces little-known effect of raging wildfires: contaminated water

Land conservation organizations are increasingly focusing on water protection. Climate change is making that even more critical.

Huge forest fires last year denuded vast areas of Colorado’s mountains and left them covered in ash — ash that with sediment has since been washed by rains into the Cache la Poudre River. The river is one of two sources for household water in this college town of 165,000. With more and fiercer storms expected this year, officials worry about water quality worsening beyond what treatment systems can handle.

The problem could apply to watersheds across the U.S. West, which has faced ever-increasing extremes in heat, drought, and wildfire amid climate change in recent years. The United States relies on water originating on forested land for about 80% of its freshwater supply, according to a government report

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Clover And Sunspots
Pixabay

Natural climate solutions for the United States

This study published in Science Advances in 2018 found that planting cover crops has the potential to hold carbon in the soil or offset emissions, but only if it is scaled-up across hundreds of millions of acres.

“Limiting climate warming to <2°C requires increased mitigation efforts, including land stewardship, whose potential in the United States is poorly understood. We quantified the potential of natural climate solutions (NCS)—21 conservation, restoration, and improved land management interventions on natural and agricultural lands—to increase carbon storage and avoid greenhouse gas emissions in the United States…”

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Mother Tree
Finding the Mother Tree book cover

Spotlight: Suzanne Simard

Suzanne's work has implications for forest management and conservation easements, too.

Following up on the Western NY Land Conservancy’s webinar, you might want to read Dr. Simard’s book. Simard writes — in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways — how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, and how they have learned to adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past…

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Old Growth Tree
Wikimedia

Finding the Mother Tree: An evening with Suzanne Simard

Western NY Land Conservancy had the privilege of hosting Dr. Suzanne Simard to talk about her research about trees, forests, and managing lands in a time of climate change. Her research sheds new light on forest management, sustainability, and how to respond to climate change. I attended the webinar and recommend you give it a listen — and share with others. (Just power through the ad at the beginning...)

From the world’s leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest — a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery.

Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron’s Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

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