Natural Areas

Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Natural Areas

Green And Red Forest
Bob Berwyn

Many overheated forests may soon release more carbon than they absorb

New research suggests that, sooner than expected, trees may become carbon sources rather than carbon sinks, as a negative feedback loop of rising temperatures drives them to release more greenhouse gases.

New research shows that Earth’s overheated climate will alter forests at a global scale even more fundamentally, by flipping a critical greenhouse gas switch in the next few decades. The study suggests that, by 2040, forests will take up only half as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they do now, if global temperatures keep rising at the present pace.

The study, published Wednesday in Science Advances, analyzed more than 20 years of data from about 250 sites that measure the transfer of carbon dioxide between land and plants and the atmosphere—the way the planet breathes. Forests and the rest of Earth’s land-based ecosystems take up about 30 percent of human carbon emissions, so any big change in that process is important…

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Cactus Wren
Gaetan Dupont/Audubon Photography Awards

How desert birds can survive with very little water

This brief and interesting audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide. It might be fun to check it out.

In the desert Southwest, summer temperatures sizzle, rising well over 100 degrees. And in some parts of the desert, there is not a drop of water for miles.

Yet some birds thrive in this scorching landscape. Here a Black-throated Sparrow sings from a thorn scrub. Now, a Cactus Wren announces itself atop a barrel cactus. And neither will be flying miles every day to the nearest source of water. So how do they survive?

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Juneau
Unsplash

Juneau’s climate change solutionists: preserving wetlands and peatlands with Koren Bosworth

If you're looking for ways to weave climate change solutions into conversations, this is a good example. Notice the conversational tone. You want to avoid jargon (technical terms) as much as possible—and use local examples.

While the rest of the world celebrated World Wetlands Day on February 2nd, we in Juneau might wonder if every day is wetlands day, especially when venturing off a developed trail.

We are lucky for it. Our spongy ground might be inhospitable to tromping and building, but it performs a service arguably more important than recreation or development: carbon sequestration.

Juneau’s peatlands and wetlands are carbon sinks, complex biomes that trap carbon in an anaerobic environment, slowing the decomposition of organic material. Coastal wetlands can store five times as much carbon as a tropical forest over time; peatlands store ten times more carbon than other kinds of ecosystems…

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White And Green Forest
Unsplash

Study: How close are we to the temperature tipping point of the terrestrial biosphere?

The following new research suggests that, sooner than expected, trees may become carbon sources rather than carbon sinks, as a negative feedback loop of rising temperatures drives them to release more greenhouse gases.

This study, published Wednesday in Science Advances, analyzed more than 20 years of data from about 250 sites that measure the transfer of carbon dioxide between land and plants and the atmosphere—the way the planet breathes. Forests and the rest of Earth’s land-based ecosystems take up about 30 percent of human carbon emissions, so any big change in that process is important…

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Dairy Cow
Judy Anderson

Caring for the land is caring for ourselves

Profitable farms cultivating healthy people; thriving, diverse communities; clean water, flood reduction, stable climate, and biodiversity are possible…

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Rancher With Cattle
FINN RYAN

‘Grassland 2.0’ seeks to transform Upper Midwest agriculture through perennial grasslands

With chronically low and erratic milk prices, Bert Paris has controlled dairy production costs with managed grazing. Pasture management can increase carbon in the soil, reduce run-off, and lower emissions like CO2 and N2O—greenhouse gases that need to be reduced.

Bert Paris loves dairy farming. After more than 30 years, he’s beginning to transition the farm he operates near Belleville, Wisconsin, to his daughter, Meagan Farrell, who is excited about moving her family home to run it.

Despite years of terrible headlines about the dairy industry, farmers like Paris and Farrell are bullish on dairy because, despite chronically low and erratic milk prices, they’ve controlled their production costs with managed grazing. “Grazing, financially speaking, was the best thing I’ve ever done for my business,” Paris says.

Paris is a participant in Grassland 2.0, a newly formed collaborative group based at the University of Wisconsin–Madison that is working to create more opportunities for grazing and other types of perennial grassland farming.

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Marshland
Judy Anderson

50 countries vow to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030

We're going to have to do a better job explaining why this is important to the people who live here in the U.S. if we are going to get our country to join this commitment to conservation. The good news? Many states see land and water conservation as an important part of the climate solution. We can share articles like this to start...

At least 50 countries committed to protecting 30% of the planet, including land and sea, over the next decade to halt species extinction and address climate change issues, during a global summit Monday aimed at protecting the world’s biodiversity.

About 30 leaders, government officials, and heads of international organizations participated in the One Planet Summit, which was held by videoconference because of the coronavirus pandemic. Top U.S. officials were notably absent, as were the leaders of Russia, India, and Brazil…

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Hemlocks With Snow
Judy Anderson

Hope for hemlocks: New tactics found to fight deadly pest

This research has potentially far-reaching impacts for hemlocks.

Several new scientific discoveries give hope that eastern hemlocks will not go the way of chestnut, elm, and ash trees and largely disappear from forests in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Hemlocks are one of the most prevalent, longest-living, beautiful, and ecologically vital trees in Appalachian forests. Sometimes called the redwoods of the East, they can take 250–300 years to mature and live more than 800 years…

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Cows On Savanna
Mastodon Valley Farm video

Wisconsin farmer mimics ecosystem where mastodons and ground sloths once roamed

Regenerative agriculture is gaining traction. Rotational grazing is now discussed in different ways to connect with different audiences.

Peter Allen is taking inspiration from the oak savannas that were once widespread in the Midwest.

He says conventional agriculture depletes the soil, but this approach to raising livestock can help build topsoil and store carbon.

“We’ve grown about three inches of topsoil in six years,” Allen says. “So that’s really inspiring.” By learning from the past, Allen hopes to produce food while also preserving savanna ecosystems for the future.

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Tree Magic In The Forest
Screenshot from CODY COBB video

Why old-growth trees are crucial to fighting climate change

This is a very thoughtful story. I encourage you to listen to it, or read it. Natural climate solutions are critical to our health and wellbeing—and have a lot of co-benefits, such as cleaner water, local food, wildlife habitat, places to go and find joy, etc.

Nature is already socking away a lot of carbon for us. It could soak up a lot more—if we help. This story dives into the science behind forests and carbon sequestration.

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