Land Trusts, Conservancies Impact Climate Change at Scale with Clean Energy Initiatives

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As the climate crisis grows ever more urgent, land conservationists are taking meaningful action to reduce carbon in the atmosphere and protect natural systems from the unavoidable impacts of a warming planet, according to a new report from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

From the Great Plains of the United States to the high-altitude wetlands of Ecuador, land trusts and conservancies are developing and implementing creative, nature-based strategies to address climate change.

In the report From the Ground Up: How Land Trusts and Conservancies are Providing Solutions to Climate Change, Lincoln Institute experts James N. Levitt and Chandni Navalkha document these initiatives through a dozen case examples that demonstrate how conservation organizations can help mitigate and adapt to climate change.

“Such organizations are working in more than 100 nations on six continents,” writes Levitt, director of the Lincoln Institute’s International Land Conservation Network, and Navalkha, the Lincoln Institute’s associate director of sustainably managed land and water resources. “They represent millions of engaged citizens working from Finland to Chile to pass our natural heritage on to future generations.”

The report explores how land trusts and conservancies have addressed climate change in five distinct areas, with examples of successful initiatives in land protection, restoration and management; water supply, stormwater management and buffering against sea-level rise; biodiversity conservation; carbon sequestration; and energy production.

Among the cases, the report documents how The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is using sophisticated geospatial technology to identify sites in the United States where wind turbines will not pose a threat to birds or other wildlife. The initiative, Site Wind Right, draws on more than 100 sources to map wind resources, wildlife habitat, infrastructure and other relevant data. It identifies more than 90 million acres as suitable for wind turbines – enough land to generate wind power equal to the country’s entire electricity supply from all sources in 2018.

Drawing on these cases, Levitt and Navalkha synthesize lessons learned and make five recommendations for those who seek to confront climate change through land conservation: empower civic sector initiatives that are creative and ambitious in scope and scale; invest in initiatives with clear strategies and measurable impact; aim for broad collaborations; share advanced science, technologies and financing techniques; and think long term.

“In the evolving struggle to rein in and cope with climate change globally, all sectors must join forces to find solutions that are sustainable, replicable and reliable,” the authors conclude.

Read the full report here.

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