Natural Areas

Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Natural Areas

Solar And Flowers
Center for Pollinators in Energy

Purdue entomologist, green groups laud solar farm for native ground cover plan

Local efforts can make or break compatible renewable projects: Riverstart Solar Park, first announced in 2018, would include 670,000 photovoltaic solar panels on 1,400 acres in southwest Randolph County and produce enough energy to power about 37,000 households—the largest such project in the state. The company was waiting for the ordinance to be enacted before starting construction.

Julie Borgmann, director of Muncie-based Red-tail Land Conservancy, spoke in favor of the pollinator-friendly provisions at several meetings of county government and also collaborated with the other supporters, including the Hoosier Environmental Council.

In an interview, she noted that, while it’s taken her land trust two decades to protect 2,700 acres of land in East Central Indiana, “this single solar farm” can “really have a huge impact on habitat for bugs, birds…and it goes on down the (ecosystem) line.”

Brock Harpur, an assistant professor of entomology at Purdue, called the new ordinance “a massive step forward for pollinator conservation in this state”…

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Sustainable Solutions
Creative Commons

Our energy future

Land trusts are recognizing that energy production, and transitioning off fossil fuels, is a key aspect of de-carboning our energy needs; which, in turn, is central to ensuring that the lands and waters we conserve survive for generations to come. That often means new, innovative partnerships.

Driftless Area Land Conservancy [DALC] along with dedicated area activists has created Iowa County CLEA-N, Clean Local Energy Alliance—Now. CLEA-N’s mission is to explore options for and engage in initiatives to advance the local ownership and control of a clean energy future in Iowa County, and to lay the groundwork for the creation of an Energy District through which the vision of that future can be realized.

CLEA-N & DALC—Working Hand-in-Hand on Common Goals

Climate disruption affects every aspect of the work at DALC. CLEA-N’s efforts to lower fossil fuel emissions and to sequester excess atmospheric carbon supports DALC’s land conservation work. As this new organization gets off the ground, DALC will be a significant stabilizing and guiding partner…

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Trees From Below
Judy Anderson

Corporate partnerships in the Family Forest carbon program

The Family Forest Carbon Program, a program created by the American Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, brings together rural family forest owners and companies to address climate change.

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Birds Eye View
© Ian Patterson

Family forests: An untapped powerhouse in climate change mitigation

Natural climate solutions can currently play an important role in slowing down climate change. Yet, too many landowners haven't been part of the financial benefits of participating in carbon forest management. TNC and others are working to change this.

[T]he American Forest Foundation and TNC have partnered to develop the Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP) to remove the barriers smaller landowners often face—carbon market access, lack of forest management expertise, and cost—to help them optimize the carbon storage potential of the 290 million acres of privately-owned U.S. forestland.

Meeting that potential requires helping those individuals and families adopt a science-based approach to take advantage of incentives for specific forest management practices that measurably enhance carbon sequestration. It requires engaging local foresters who have decades of experience working with private landowners.

Through sustainable management, landowners can reduce their expenses by as much as 75 percent…

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Bell Flowers
Land Trust of Napa County

Wildfire: The road to recovery

Conveying your humanity, and humble appreciation, is central to being trusted and seen as a community partner. So, too, is following the science of climate change and restoration—and helping your community understand how it is evolving.

Facing historic grief, loss, and destruction in most of the West, this land trust faces reality and is here to help:

“As we continue to move forward after the historic wildfires, we want to express our deepest sympathy to everyone impacted by the fires here and in Sonoma, Solano, and Mendocino Counties. We are endlessly grateful for the untiring efforts of the first responders, the over 11,000 firefighters [some brought in from all over the country, and as far away as Australia and Canada], the California Highway Patrol, local authorities, and the countless volunteers who worked tirelessly to protect us all. And the response of the Napa community has been truly inspiring.

Our staff continues the process of actively visiting properties to assess short and long term stewardship issues. We have been consulting with experts from a number of other agencies, such as Cal Fire, and have joined the Post Fire Recovery Working Group, which includes the Napa County Resource Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Servicethe County, and others who are working to assess the condition of burned areas and determine any steps that could or should be taken.

Lastly, in a proactive effort to share useful information, we’ve collected resource links to webpages and pdfs that could be helpful in the recovery process and have posted them. Our goal of working together as a community remains and with it the hope that we can live up to Napa’s inspired resiliency…”

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Hazy Forest
Creative Commons

Evidence for declining forest resilience to wildfires under climate change

Kerry Kemp, a forest ecologist for the Oregon Nature Conservancy, studies forest resiliency, or the ability of forests to come back after wildfire or other major disturbances. For new trees to grow in the forest, living ones must be nearby to act as seed sources. And then once those seeds start growing, they’re more susceptible to drought than established trees. “The resilience of these forests is likely to be lower when there’s a mismatch between the current climate and the climate niche for tree regeneration,” Kemp said. “As the climate changes, a given location may no longer be capable of supporting tree regrowth the way it could when temperatures were lower and weather patterns were different. In some parts of the West, it’s already happening,” she said.

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Kale Under Solar
Hyperion Systems, LLC

Smart Solar Siting partnership project for New England

Land trusts will need to help promote renewables if we are going to reduce climate change fast enough to make a meaningful impact. Yet we know that rooftop solar, and parking lot/brown-field solar won't be enough. That means solar has to go on farmland or wildlife habitat...and it's not often compatible with wildlife habitat.

American Farmland Trust’s Smart Solar Siting Partnership Project for New England started as a two-year effort to build an influential, ongoing, multi-stakeholder coalition supporting recommendations that advance smart solar siting policies and programs in New England states. This is a joint effort to accelerate the expansion of renewable solar energy facilities while maintaining New England’s most productive, resilient farmland and forest land and strengthening its regional food systems.

Check out their program and resources. Your land trust and community may be able to model a similar approach.

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Goat Peeking Out Of Barn
Judy Anderson

Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change with Natural and Working Lands – A Policy Analysis and Playbook

“Wisconsin’s more than 33 million acres of forests, farms, and conservation lands cover more than 92% of our state. They play a critical role in absorbing and offsetting carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions that are the primary cause of climate change.

Together, these “Natural and Working Lands” are a highly productive resource, contributing farm and forest products to our economy, providing recreation opportunities and a high quality of life, and quietly but effectively offsetting CO2 emissions.”

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Rainbow Over Cows
Richard Cates

New report: “Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change with Natural and Working Lands”

Your land trust can draw from the insights of others, like this new report, as well as share your state's own insights as to how working lands can—and need to be—part of the climate solution.

Wisconsin’s more than 33 million acres of forests, farms, and conservation lands cover over 92% of the state. They play a critical role in absorbing and offsetting carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions that are the primary cause of climate change. Together, these “Natural and Working Lands” are a highly productive resource, contributing farm and forest products to [the] economy, providing recreation opportunities and a high quality of life, and quietly but effectively offsetting CO2 emissions.

Natural and Working Lands make a significant contribution to cleaner air and reduced warming, with large benefits for soil, water, and people. By managing [the] Natural and Working Lands effectively, Wisconsin could offset an additional 16 million tons of CO2 each year—equal to 20% of our annual net greenhouse gas (GG) emissions.

See the full report “Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change with Natural and Working Lands” here.

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Drone Above Road And Evergreens
Geran de Klerk on Unsplash

It’s time for businesses to aim higher. Here’s one way to do it—natural climate solutions

This is the sort of article you can share with community members, businesses, and your local land trust. Granted, with Covid-19, businesses are often facing lower cash-flow. But that's not to say you can't start planting the seeds of what could be possible once we get through the worst of this pandemic.

Corporations are (rightly) first focused on reducing their emissions. That’s absolutely where they need to start, and it should be their highest climate-related priority. Thanks to pressure by activists, customers, shareholders and employees, companies are now taking action. They’re not waiting for government regulations mandating them to do so. They’re doing what they can to reduce their carbon emissions by using less energy and switching to renewables.

And when they can’t reduce further, they are now also committing to purchase large volumes of offsets to reach carbon neutrality. Some companies go even further and aim to reach net negative.

This is where NCS enters the picture…

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