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Mature Forests Video Screenshot

Mature forests, carbon & climate: Learning with the land

Local stories about climate change and land protection are a great way to connect with others. Here's an example video your local land trust could emulate.

Come visit with old-growth forest expert Bob Leverett at his own forest in Florence to learn about the role our local forests play in the carbon cycle and in mitigating climate change. Bob shares his scientific method for calculating the volume of a tree and its carbon content, as well as a fascinating look at several species of mature trees on his property, including the beautiful Tuliptree…

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Sheep Grazing With Solar Panels
Blue Wave Solar

What makes for compatible solar?

Given that natural climate solutions are going to play approximately 21% of the climate solution in this country, if we act fast, we also have to figure out how to promote and integrate renewables. The good news is that compatible solar can help enhance soils, farm and ranch land viability, and water retention. That is, if it is designed and managed well and people promote it as a solution. This webinar is a good place to start.

American Farmland Trust’s New England Climate and Agriculture Program Manager and soil scientist Emily Cole, and Blue Wave’s Development/Senior Director Drew Pierson, team up to talk about what is needed to make solar projects compatible with—and benefit from—farmland viability.

If you are interested in how to slow down climate change and help agriculture, this webinar could be helpful. This is the second in a three-part series. While the webinar is focused on New England, the concepts of design, strategy, and partnerships are applicable to other parts of the country.

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Solar Builder Mag

How solar farms can be regenerative for soil and sequester more carbon

With Natural Climate Solutions estimated to be 21% in this country, we need renewables—and fast—to save the places we love. Solar installations can be done in a manner that helps agricultural viability and soil health. Here's a good example. We can help people see solutions and encourage better design and management.

What if renewable energy was not just sustainable but was also regenerative? This is the goal of a partnership between White Oak Pastures and Silicon Ranch Corporation, an independent solar power producer under the umbrella of Shell.

In 2020 alone, this partnership will bring holistic planned livestock grazing and regenerative land management practices to nearly 2,400 solar farm acres in Southwest Georgia to create carbon sinks, restore biodiversity and soil health, and add to the environmental, social, and economic benefits of these clean energy projects…

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Solar Panels
Evan Frost | MPR News

Pollinator-friendly solar energy becomes the norm in Minnesota

Your local land trust could share this with your supporters and let them know that pollinators are threatened and that this can help. Public perception is often shaped by those they trust, and as an organization they trust, you can help them understand that we need to think about solar in new ways.

The environmental benefits of Connexus Energy’s solar-plus-storage project are obvious enough, but this time of year, you’ll notice something more: prairie grasses and flowers planted under and around the sea of solar panels.

Pollinator-friendly plantings at large solar energy sites have become common in Minnesota in recent years. Not only do they provide habitat for the bee and butterfly populations people have been concerned about, but they also promote soil health and probably even boost the solar panels’ electricity output on warm days…

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Pollinator Friendly Solar
RTPeat / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A Practitioner’s Guide to Pollinator-Friendly Solar Development

With Natural Climate Solutions estimated to be 21% in this country, we need renewables—and fast—to save the places we love. Yale's Center for Business in the Environment is working to add clarity to both solar developers and community members by sharing the financial realities as well as ecological opportunities. For example, early and ongoing research suggests that planting deep-rooted vegetation beneath solar panels creates cooler microclimates that help improve efficiency and energy output.

This toolkit provides background on pollinator-friendly solar and its advantages, and tips, resources, and important considerations to kick-start the integration of pollinator habitat into a solar development portfolio.

In addition to the diverse environmental benefits that pollinator-friendly solar projects can produce, there are an array of private benefits for solar developers to reap from planting perennial vegetation under their solar panels.

The guide offers a set of best practices for understanding local context, building support for a project, designing a site, financing, and development…

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Harvard And Yale Student Protests
Nic Antaya | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

As big endowments spurn fossil fuel stocks, there’s one thing making this decision easy

This article might be of interest to those considering financial investments and how land trusts can walk the walk.

As big endowment funds face mounting pressure to reduce their exposure to the fossil fuel industry, there’s one thing making their decision easier: the energy sector’s underperformance…

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Smoke Stacks Video Screenshot

Your land trust has a chance to be strategic and proactive

This video from Yale Climate Connections may be helpful to your board and/or those involved in financial decisions. No longer is divestment just a moral decision. Increasingly, it's a strategic financial decision—and many donors are looking for land trusts to walk the walk.

Calls for decarbonization are now coming from the boardrooms and executive suites of the world’s largest corporations and investment funds, in a fast-moving change that could reshape the global energy system and economy. Listen to why investment firms and companies are divesting.

I’ll be posting more about alternatives, but in the meantime, check out PIMCO’s climate investment funds.

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Grist Filtered Solar
Grist / National Renewable Energy Lab

Cash-strapped farms are growing a new crop: solar panels

Here's a new article about elevated solar. Your land trust could help your local community understand how this is a beneficial economic tool for farmers and ranchers. That may mean explaining to legislative and municipal leaders (like land trusts do for open space funding) why it's important to provide the economic incentives and/or ordinances to allow solar panels to be installed.

Construction is slated to begin this spring on a 1.2-megawatt solar array on the Kominek farm (in Colorado). Some 3,300 solar panels will rest on 6-foot and 8-foot-high stilts, providing shade for crops like tomatoes, peppers, kale, and beans on a five-acre plot. Pasture grasses and beehive boxes are planned for the perimeter…

The vegetables will be sold through a community farm-share program, which allows neighbors to invest in the project in exchange for boxes of produce.

Byron Kominek said he hopes similar projects will soon follow. In 2018, Boulder County officials updated the local land-use codes to allow for community solar on land otherwise designated for agriculture, and Kominek plans to help train other farmers how to grow crops alongside solar panels. “The hope is that young farmers will have a better understanding of how to do this, and will go out to already built solar arrays, or planned solar arrays, and find a new profession,” he said.

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SOlar on Office
Genesee Valley Conservancy

Office upgrades: Going solar

You and your local land trust can demonstrate that change starts at home. Some people can buy into community solar, while others may install solar on their buildings. It's also an area where your land trust could advocate for policies to assist with more affordable energy conservation efforts—just like land trusts advocate for conservation funding.

Historic 1 Main Street, built in 1835, has received its most recent modernization this fall with the addition of solar panels to provide clean electricity.

Building owners Meg and Billy Lloyd partnered with Genesee Valley Conservancy to install the photovoltaic system that will offset 100% of the land trust’s electric use. They acknowledge that “while the land trust works to protect habitat, open space, and farmland in the Genesee Valley, a large supply of power is needed to run the operations of this work: computers, printers, lights, modems, etc.”

The up-front costs were shared by the building owners and the Conservancy, as both will benefit from the project. The Conservancy will see an immediate reduction in monthly utility bills and after six years will break even on the initial investment and begin seeing a net-savings.

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Poppies And Solar Panels
Mrs. Green's World

Tucson Electric Power Series

Check out Tucson Electric Power's (TEP) podcast series.

Tucson Electric Power (TEP) provides safe, reliable and increasingly sustainable electric service to approximately 425,000 customers in Southern Arizona. The company is on track to surpass its own ambitious renewable energy goals by expanding use of wind and solar power. TEP is a local leader in community service, volunteerism and economic development efforts, with energy efficiency programs that help customers to better manage their energy costs. It is with great pride that we spotlight TEP programs and services.

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