Natural Areas

Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Natural Areas

Sustainable Solutions

Sequestering carbon and enhancing our local landscapes

How are you working with local community groups, businesses, and partners to ramp up climate change impacts? You may have to restructure activities to meet social distancing and safety requirements until there is a Covid-19 vaccine, but land trusts are being creative.

Last year, almost 50 businesses and individuals offset their carbon footprints with ECC [Evergreen Carbon Capture] by planting 4,038 conifer trees, which will absorb 20,190 tons of CO2 over the next 100 years. Though only a drop in the bucket compared to what our native forests were once capable of, every tree planted and cared for provides a myriad of benefits like wildlife habitat, and improved water and air quality, which bring our landscapes one step closer to the ecological function of their pasts.

ECC offers the unique opportunity for partners to join our tree planting efforts at volunteer work parties. This year our field partners from Adopt-a-Stream FoundationDirt CorpsForterraFriends of the Burke Gilman TrailGreen Kirkland PartnershipGreen Redmond PartnershipGreen River CoalitionGreen Seattle Partnership, and Stewardship Partners led 11 events for 367 volunteers to plant trees throughout the Puget Sound region, from Auburn to Marysville….

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© Ron Leonetti

A natural path for U.S. climate action

When it comes to the impact and potential of land management on global warming, everything really is bigger in Texas. Unless you’re talking about agricultural lands—then everything is bigger in Iowa. Or if you’re talking about the impact of urban trees, that’s biggest in Florida—though it’s also pretty big in Texas.

Across the United States, in fact, land management can have a really big effect on the climate. A new study examines the country’s potential to implement natural solutions—such as growing taller trees, improving soil health, protecting grasslands and restoring coastal wetlands—to increase carbon storage and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.  Essentially, turbo-charging nature to address global warming, while also providing natural benefits for people, water and wildlife…

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Land Trust of Santa Cruz County

Watsonville Slough Farm

Land trusts own farms and ranches throughout the country for a wide variety of reasons. Leveraging these lands to inspire others through education, recreation, and direct farming/ranching is central to the work of many land trusts.

In 2009, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, CA completed the acquisition of 442 acres of farmland and wetlands at the heart of the Watsonville Sloughs. In 2010, the Land Trust acquired another 45 acres, and in 2011 an additional 4 acres.

Now, the land trust’s Watsonville Slough Farm does double duty: it produces an amazing amount of vegetables and strawberries and the restored grasslands around the farmed areas [which] capture an amazing amount of carbon, one way to reduce the greenhouse gases that are a cause of climate change.

The farm produces enough vegetables to serve 30,000 people, and enough strawberries for those 30,000 people to also get their recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, every day of the year!

The farm is hilly, however, and surrounded by wetlands. The land trust therefore retired the steepest ground and the wettest. The growers who lease on the farm were happy to give up this marginal ground, as it was expensive to farm. It is on this retired farmland that they are taking advantage of a great opportunity to capture carbon…

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Light Through The Canopy
Mass Audubon article

Capturing carbon in Mass Audubon forests

“Mass Audubon is committed to fighting climate change through conservation, advocacy, and education. And we are always looking for innovative ways to make a real and lasting impact. Our recent entry into the California Air Resources Board (CARB) carbon offset market is a prime example.

Establishing a price on carbon is an effective way to harness economic pressure to force carbon emissions reductions, but no policy has yet been implemented at the federal level. The best model is California’s comprehensive carbon emissions reduction campaign, which includes a cap-and-trade program for industries…”

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Footbridge In The Woods
Mass Audubon article

The role of land conservation in fighting climate change

In the coming year, your land trust can help people connect the dots to what they love and how climate change puts it at risk. You then want to help them see solutions. Often these will be natural climate solutions (estimated at 21% of the needed response—if we act fast), including personal actions, as well as policies for energy conservation and renewables.

At Mass Audubon, [their] land conservation strategy is directly linked to climate change mitigation and adaptation. As the largest private land owner in Massachusetts with more than 38,000 acres protected, [they] know how critical land conservation and effective land management is in the age of climate change.

[Their] recent entry in the California Air Resources Board (CARB) carbon offset market ensures that 10,000 acres of forested land will be protected for the next 100 years, ensuring the carbon stored in this critical landscape remains there…

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River Valley View
Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy article

Partnering with a local city to sell carbon credits

Partnering with municipalities may be one way your local land trust can make a significant impact. It doesn't have to be the sale of carbon credits--it could be assisting with grants, transitioning to renewables, and/or energy efficiency.

Located in New York State, Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is working to slow down climate change in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the City of Albany.

The Albany Water Board will receive funding from the sale of carbon credits. The Nature Conservancy expects this revenue to surpass one million dollars over the next ten years, which the Water Board will direct toward the implementation of the Sustainable Forest Management Plan, watershed management, and Water Board priorities.

As outlined in the Plan, the Albany Water Board has entered into a Conservation Easement with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy…

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Snow Covered spruce Branch

Community, woodlands, and climate change discussions

The all-volunteer land trust Eastern Connecticut Forest Landowners / Wolf Den Land Trust teamed up with several other organizations to host a discussion for woodland owners. Could your local land trust join together with others to help people understand the impacts of climate change?

One of the ways to help motivate people to slow down climate change is to help them understand the impacts on the places they love. Notice how welcoming this invitation and event is. Here is their announcement:

“Are you a woodland owner? Get together with other woodland owners and natural resource professionals to discuss the future of Connecticut’s forests. Andrea Urbano, a Service Forester with CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, will discuss what changes we can expect to see in Connecticut’s forests as a result of climate change, and how these changes interact with other threats to our forests.

We will also discuss what we can do to help create resilient forests through the upcoming changes. Bring your questions and concerns about your woodland. Resources for further action will be provided, including information on cost-sharing opportunities for land management practices. Time for snacks and networking will round out the evening…”

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Baby Cornstalks

As soils warm, microbes pump more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere

You and/or your land trust could share information like this—and connect the dots to why ramping up natural climate solutions and renewables is critical to farming, wildlife, and slowing down climate change.

Thomas Crowther is professor of ecosystem ecology at ETH Zurich, a university in Switzerland. “As we warm those soils, those microbes become more active, and that means they release more carbon into the atmosphere,” he says.

He says that makes the climate warmer, which in turn makes the microbes even more active, “which pumps more carbon out of the soil, which warms the planet further, leading to a feedback that can actually really accelerate the rate of climate change…”

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Wetlands Sunset
Myer Bornstein

Mass Audubon & climate change

“Climate change requires us to boldly and urgently act to protect the wildlife and people we love. In response, Mass Audubon has committed to achieving a carbon neutral future in Massachusetts by 2050.

Carbon neutrality, or net zero emissions, means that we don’t emit any greenhouse gasses that we can’t soak back up out of the atmosphere. To do so entails protecting and conserving natural climate fighting tools, mitigating climate change by reducing and eliminating our greenhouse gas emissions, and amplifying nature’s resilience to climate impacts…”

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Pond Scene
Judy Anderson

Taking steps to “walk the walk”: Peconic Land Trust makes changes

They've also spent some time looking at their internal operations to identify where small changes could make an impact. If your local land trust is looking for ideas on where to start, this might be an interesting list to consider...

Peconic Land Trust’s (PLT) values and goals reflect their organization’s desire to protect their environment and appreciate the natural resources of Long Island, New York. Over the last several years, PLT has taken steps to minimize their carbon footprint by making their offices more efficient and by integrating “green principles” throughout the organization.

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