Natural Areas

Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Natural Areas

Fern Forest
iStock

New special report on the benefits of community forest

Community forests can be part of the climate solution — and help increase public access to lands, close to home.

The Trust for Public Land announced the release of a special report, “Community Forests: A Path to Prosperity and Connection,” in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and with generous support from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities. The report, and accompanying handouts, takes a case-study approach to understanding and exploring the numerous economic benefits provided by community forests created through the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (CFP).

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Solar Install
Taos Land Trust

Producing energy while protecting the land

Some of the most innovative land trusts are small and nimble. In 2017, Taos Land Trust was already focused on climate change and modeling how to make a difference. Today, other land trusts are realizing that compatible solar is going to need to be at the core of their conservation efforts — just like invasive species management.

“Part of our work as a community land trust is to help reframe the energy debate and build community energy resiliency.

…[W]e flipped the switch on our first solar energy array and as of today more than 50% of the energy we use to run Taos Land Trust is generated by our new solar panels. The 2kW photovoltaic array sitting on our downtown Taos property was installed through a generous grant from the PPC Solar Photovoltaic Donation Program. This is a huge move for us…”

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Owls
Gorder Ellmers/Grassland Bird Trust

Argyle bird trust working with solar developer to conserve more land

With so many birds at risk due to climate change, finding ways for renewables to work with them is increasingly important.

“We’re excited about this collaboration and look forward to working with Eden on future mitigation projects,” said Grassland Bird Trust Executive Director Laurie LaFond. “We believe that renewable energy, when done right, can play an important role in restoring populations of grassland birds to sustainable levels.”

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Healthy Sprout
iStock

Climate change affects soil health

Installing millions of acres of solar that are mowed like lawns, to me, is a gigantic waste. Instead, we could promote elevated solar that allows for a diversity of farming and ranching underneath and between the panels.

For too long, we’ve been saying that solar should avoid farmland, based upon soil type (meaning, avoiding lands of “prime” or “statewide” importance, etc.). Yet given that we know that climate change is stressing soils, and making farming and ranching more difficult, the question could better be framed: “How can solar (and wind) help farm and ranch viability, water retention, and soil health?”

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Tree Overlook
Unsplash

Land restoration for carbon sequestration

As climate change stresses natural systems, and invasives become increasingly challenging to control, it's going to be an ongoing strategy adjustment to clarify what, where, and how we are going to manage natural lands.

Striving to restore these affected areas back to their Native Plant Community type helps provide high-quality habitat for native plants and wildlife, helps protect uncommon and endangered species populations in the state, and protects vital essential ecosystem services such as clean water, clean air, and carbon sequestration.

The Minnesota Land Trust conducts three common types of restoration projects across the state: prairie restoration, wetland restoration, and woody invasives removal…

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Forest
Wikimedia

Buffam Brook Community Forest

Bounded by Buffam, Boyden, and North Valley Roads, this 289-acre Town of Pelham conservation land consists of the Clifford E. Lippincott Conservation Area enhanced by five parcels that were added between 2017-2019 with funding from the U.S. Forest Service Community Forest Program, which supports local acquisition of land to create a publicly owned forest that is managed for the educational, recreational and economic benefit of the community.

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Forest
Wikimedia

Kestrel Land Trust acquires 161 acres of “core area” in Pelham, Mass.

This project is the culmination of years of work between the landowners, Kestrel Land Trust and the Town of Pelham to protect this important landscape, which supports endangered species habitat, local water quality, and climate change resilience.

The Kestrel Land Trust and the Town of Pelham Conservation Commission have acquired a 161-acre parcel of land in Pelham, Mass., that will serve as a valuable natural asset for both people and wildlife. The Buffam Brook Community Forest, which lies within a high priority terrestrial “core area” in the Connect the Connecticut landscape conservation design, will be a publicly owned forest managed for the educational, recreational, and economic benefit of the community, thanks to collaboration with several private woodland owners.

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Kids In Nature
Kestral Land Trust

New community forest promotes climate change resilience

The Town of Pelham Conservation Commission and Kestrel Land Trust recently announced the acquisition of 161-acres of woodlands from private owners to create the Buffam Brook Community Forest, west of the Quabbin Reservoir, the second of its kind in the State of Massachusetts. The Community Forest and Open Space Program is a United States Forest Service Grant that funds local acquisition of land to create a publicly owned forest that is managed for the educational, recreational and economic benefit of the community.

This project is the culmination of years of work between the landowners, Kestrel Land Trust and the Town of Pelham to protect this important landscape, which supports endangered species habitat, local water quality, and climate change resilience.

[Note: You can find additional information here]

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Forest Floor
Judy Anderson

Working Woodlands Program

Are you interested in assisting landowners with climate management goals? This is a good example of how being helpful and welcoming can inspire greater change. Make sure you follow the state and federal funding discussions in case there are resources to help land trusts initiate similar programs. Foundations, companies, and donors might be interested in supporting this effort, too.

The principle behind Working Woodlands is simple: landowners agree to manage their forests sustainably in return for conservation and management assistance with improving the value and the health of their land.

Specifically, TNC works with landowners to analyze a property’s potential as wildlife habitat and for fighting climate change. In return, participating landowners receive…

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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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