Natural Areas

Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Natural Areas

Beaver Trapped And Set Free
bioGraphic

An indigenous tribe in Washington is strategically placing beavers around to help salmon

The sentiment that Castor canadensis is little more than a tree-felling, water-stealing, property-flooding pest is a common one. In 2017, trappers in Washington State killed 1,700 “nuisance” beavers, nearly 20 times more than were relocated alive. In neighboring Oregon, the herbivorous rodents are classified as predators, logic and biology notwithstanding. California considers them a “detrimental species.” Last year alone, the U.S. Department of Agriculture eliminated more than 23,000 conflict-causing beavers nationwide.

Running countercurrent to this carnage is another trend: the rise of the Beaver Believer. Across North America, many scientists and land managers are discovering that, far from being forces of destruction, beavers can serve as agents of water conservation, habitat creation, and stream restoration…

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Cuauhtemoc Saenz Romero Forest Geneticist Trying To Move An Entire Forest
Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

To save the monarch butterfly, Mexican scientists are moving a forest 1,000 feet up a mountain

The world is losing monarch butterflies at a startling rate, as logging, herbicides, and other human activities destroy natural habitats. But the biggest threat yet has only recently come into focus. Climate change, with its extreme storms, prolonged droughts, and warming temperatures, is poised to eradicate the forest that serves as the butterfly’s winter refuge.

To help his beloved butterflies, Ramirez has partnered with scientists on a monumental experiment: They are trying to move an entire forest 1,000 feet up a mountain…

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Forest With Heavenly Light
Pixabay

Leading on climate change solutions

“Forests are the best nature-based solution to climate change. Annually in the United States, forests and forest products capture and store almost 15 percent of the country’s carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. They have the potential to capture nearly twice as much if we plant more trees, use climate-smart practices to manage our forests and take other actions.

And we are not just talking about big forests in national parks and rural mountain communities. Trees in metropolitan areas and small towns in the U.S. are responsible for almost one-fifth of the country’s captured and stored carbon emissions. They also shade buildings in the summer and block wind in the winter, which reduces the use of air conditioners and heaters—avoiding millions of tons of carbon emissions…”

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Little Girl Hugs And Smiles
Judy Anderson

Parks Are a Critical Solution to Climate Change

If you, your land trust, or your community, values parks, this could be good to share.

Parks mitigate the urban heat island effect, improve air quality, and absorb carbon from the atmosphere. They support local biodiversity and can act as buffer zones for flooding or mudslides. Parks add both important social and environmental infrastructure…

Urban parks are also important because they provide the foundation for urban forests, which help cities both mitigate carbon emissions and adapt to a changing climate. According to Jad Daley, CEO of American Forests, urban forests absorb some 100 million tons of carbon each year—about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Trees found in these green areas can reduce energy use up to 7% because they provide wind blocks for homes in the winter and cooling in the summer…

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Bee On Aster
Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

Highly compatible: pollinator-friendly solar projects and farming

This might be good to share on your social media feed.

Taking farmland out of production to increase harvests might seem counterintuitive. But new and ongoing research suggests that trading some farmland for deep-rooted prairie vegetation can provide habitat for wild insect pollinators and boost overall crop yields.

Increasingly popular pollinator-friendly solar projects, which cultivate low-growing meadows underneath the panels, present an opportunity to increase food production and clean energy generation at once. For a state like Minnesota, where farming is prevalent and the solar industry is expanding, this kind of compatibility between agriculture and solar energy production is a most welcome development…

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Looking Up At A Tree From Below
Pixabay

Wildfires and climate change push low-elevation forests across a critical climate threshold for tree regeneration

“Climate change is increasing fire activity in the western United States, which has the potential to accelerate climate-induced shifts in vegetation communities. Wildfire can catalyze vegetation change by killing adult trees that could otherwise persist in climate conditions no longer suitable for seedling establishment and survival. Recently documented declines in postfire conifer recruitment in the western United States may be an example of this phenomenon. However, the role of annual climate variation and its interaction with long-term climate trends in driving these changes is poorly resolved…”

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Researchers In A Stand Of Ponderosa Pines Two Years After A Wildfire
Lyn Alweis/Denver Post via Getty Images

Iconic Forests Reaching Climate Tipping Points in American West, Study Finds

Climate change in the American West may be crossing an ominous threshold, making parts of the region inhospitable for some native pine and fir forests to regrow after wildfires, new research suggests:

As temperatures rise, the hotter, drier air and drier soil conditions are increasingly unsuitable for young Douglas firs and ponderosa pines to take root and thrive in some of the region’s low-elevation forests, scientists write in a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Wildfires in these areas could lead to abrupt ecosystem changes, from forest to non-forest, that would otherwise take decades to centuries, the study says.

“Once a certain threshold was crossed, then the probability of tree establishment decreased rapidly,” said Kimberley Davis, a researcher at the University of Montana and lead author of the study. “The climate conditions are just a lot less suitable for regeneration.”

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Hummingbird
Pixabay

Climate change is leading to unpredictable ecosystem disruption for migratory birds

“Climates have natural variation and we’re moving rapidly into territory where the magnitude of climate change will consistently exceed this variation,” says lead author and Cornell Lab researcher Frank La Sorte.

“There will be no historic precedent for these new climates, and migratory bird populations will increasingly encounter ‘novel’ climatic conditions. The most likely outcome will be a period of ecological disruption as migratory birds and other species try to respond or adapt to these new conditions…”

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Australian Forest
N Cirani/De Agostini/Getty Images

‘Whole thing is unravelling’: climate change reshaping Australia’s forests (There are warning signs here in the U.S. too)

While trees can, and do, play a role in slowing down climate change, they are increasingly under stress. We will have to ramp up renewables and energy efficiency to save the lands and waters—and the trees that can help—from ecological collapse...

Australia’s forests are being reshaped by climate change as droughts, heatwaves, rising temperatures, and bushfires drive ecosystems towards collapse, ecologists have told Guardian Australia.

Trees are dying, canopies are getting thinner, and the rate that plants produce seeds is falling. Ecologists have long predicted that climate change would have major consequences for Australia’s forests. Now they believe those impacts are unfolding…

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Foggy Tree Mountains

World’s biggest terrestrial carbon sinks are found in young forests

More than half of the carbon sink in the world’s forests is in areas where the trees are relatively young—under 140 years old—rather than in tropical rainforests, research at the University of Birmingham shows.

Dr. Tom Pugh, of the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR), explained: “It’s important to get a clear sense of where and why this carbon uptake is happening, because this helps us to make targeted and informed decisions about forest management…”

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