Natural Areas

Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Natural Areas

Judy Anderson

Soils could be affected by climate change, impacting water and food

Rutgers-led study shows how increased rainfall can reduce water infiltration in soils.

Climate change may reduce the ability of soils to absorb water in many parts of the world, according to a Rutgers-led study. And that could have serious implications for groundwater supplies, food production and security, stormwater runoff, biodiversity and ecosystems…

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Leaves And Winter
Judy Anderson

The importance of old trees

The University of Michigan study findings suggest that it is important to consider forest age as an aspect of climate change mitigation, such that a mixture of old and young trees in a forest is essential to cope with the short- and long-term impacts of drought.

The study analyzed over 20,000 trees across five continents, with a primary focus on trees from the upper canopy, as these trees have stronger carbon sequestration ability and provide fundamental ecosystem services such as microclimate buffering and habitat provision to other organisms than forest components…

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Black And White Bird

Climate warming from managed grasslands cancels the cooling effect of carbon sinks in sparsely grazed and natural grasslands

Check out this new research finding that sustainable, optimized grazing and restoration of degraded pasture will be crucial to maintain the cooling effects of grassland carbon sinks.

Grasslands absorb and release carbon dioxide (CO2), emit methane (CH4) from grazing livestock, and emit nitrous oxide (N2O) from soils. Little is known about how the fluxes of these three greenhouse gases, from managed and natural grasslands worldwide, have contributed to past climate change, or the roles of managed pastures versus natural grasslands.

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Cow 188
Civil Eats

A [new] study on regenerative grazing complicates climate optimism

Sometimes prairies are considered the only way to store carbon. Research is showing that this is not the case.

For Stanley and her colleagues, the bottom line is simple — the sequestration rate is meaningful, especially since grasslands play such an important role in storing carbon. In fact, new research finds that sustainable, optimized grazing and restoration of degraded pasture will be crucial to maintain the cooling effects of grassland carbon sinks…

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Creative Commons

The role of climate change in pollinator decline across the Northern Hemisphere is underestimated

Some key topics of this scientific article are summarized below.

•Pollinator conservation strategies lack climate adaptation initiatives.
•Climate change drives homogenization at three levels of pollinator biodiversity.
•Rarely measured aspects of biodiversity tend to be most affected by climate change.
•Seldom considered dimensions of climate change tend to be particularly detrimental.
•Pollinator decline might be especially pronounced due to dispersal limitation….

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Spring Map
The Washington Post

When will spring come? Or has it already? Look up where you live.

Many of us felt unsettled this "winter" as the trees showed signs of spring, as early as November. It appears that this was a trend across several regions. These maps are useful to visualize these new issues.

All across the east, naturalists are exasperated. As the rest of us luxuriated in this winter’s uncommon mildness, gardeners and wildlife biologists watched with rising pique as one of the earliest springs in recent memory threw nature’s rhythms out of whack.

Ignorant of the human calendar, nature instead responds to the gradual accumulation of heat at the beginning of each year. If the daily average temperature is above freezing, that sends a signal to plants and animals that life is again preparing to grow. Each year, the USA National Phenology Network — phenology is the study of seasonal change — keeps track of when leaves sprout as heat accumulates across the country.

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Trees are moving north from global warming. Look up how your city [region] could change.

Species are trying to adapt to a rapidly changing climate, and studies are showing that situations like this are becoming more common due to the effects of climate change on trees and other plants. The question is, will they adapt quickly enough?

As the climate warms, horticulturalists are trying out species adapted to more southern climates. Michael Hagen, curator of the native plant and rock gardens at the New York Botanical Garden, told me recently that his colleagues are planting southern live oaks, known for the Spanish moss that drapes, ghostlike, from their limbs.

Live oaks can grow as far north as Zone 7, according to data provided by the Davey Tree Expert Company. By century’s end, they could grow in Chicago and up into Michigan, while south Florida could become too hot for them.

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Sheep And Solar
Serkan Ates/Oregon State University

Agrivoltaics bill introduced in U.S. Senate

Based on a recent study, the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture would develop a regulatory definition of agrivoltaics. The bill, according to NSAC staff, comes with an authorization of appropriations of $15 million for 2024 through 2028.

According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), the study would aim to answer many questions about agrivoltaics, including what panel designs are best for livestock versus crops; what animal breeds are best suited to graze under panels; how to handle fencing, manure, and other livestock considerations in solar panel systems; and how growing crops under panels impacts yields, soil moisture, and other factors.

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Liana cutting in selectively logged forests increases both carbon sequestration and timber yields

Recent studies from The Nature Conservancy and others show that restoring and protecting nature could provide up to a third of the emission reductions needed by 2030, annually capturing up to 11 billion metric tons of CO2. For a deeper dive into the scientific research behind these findings, check out this article.

Infestations of trees by woody climbing plants (i.e., lianas) are common and increasing in an estimated 250 Mha of the 1 billion hectares of mixed-species tropical and temperate forest subjected to selective logging. Cutting lianas that impede the growth of future crop trees (FCTs) in these forests would sequester carbon at low cost and increase timber yields. We estimate that application of this treatment to five liana-infested FCTs per hectare across the 250 Mha of selectively logged forest would result in 0.8 PgCO2 of additional carbon removals by the liberated trees over 30 years at a direct cost of well less than $1.00 MgCO2−1.

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Liana liberation: New study shows freeing trees from woody vines is a profitable natural climate solution

Recent studies from The Nature Conservancy and others show that restoring and protecting nature could provide up to a third of the emission reductions needed by 2030, annually capturing up to 11 billion metric tons of CO2. However, those same studies note that nature needs us to reduce fossil fuel consumption, significantly, for nature to thrive... let alone survive.

Liberating trees from their burdens of woody vines (lianas) is an extremely cost-effective way to improve the economic value of managed forests and help mitigate climate change, according to new research published in Forest Ecology and Management  by scientists from the University of Florida, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and partner institutions…

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