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Land trusts can promote resilience and help priority species, habitats and resources weather the effects of climate change.
Adaptive management involves implementing a management strategy, closely monitoring its effects and then adapting future actions based on the observed results. In this way, planners simultaneously apply management practices and learn from those management
Drafting conservation easements for long-term success requires consideration of many factors, including potential climate change impacts. Conservation easements should be designed to be adaptable, thus allowing managers to respond in a timely manner to changing conditions and conservation values, which may result from climate change or other natural- or man-made-causes.
Downeast Lakes Land Trust’s carbon project covers more than 19,000 acres of the trust’s 33,700 Farm Cove Community Forest in eastern Maine, and registered nearly 200,000 offsets; each offset is equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide.
Numerous land trusts have already incorporated elements of climate adaptation planning into their management strategies. In general, a climate change adaptation plan identifies and assesses impacts that are likely to affect the planning area, develops goals and actions to best minimize these impacts, and establishes a process to implement those actions. Climate change adaptation actions can often fulfill other management goals, such as sustainable development and risk reduction, and can therefore be incorporated into existing decision-making processes.
After five years of work, Jefferson Land Trust’s Conservation Plan, a long-range, hundred-year vision of county growth and resource stewardship, was completed in 2010. JLT’s projects highlight how strategic planning can effectively align complementary management objectives such as stewarding sustainable working lands, conserving habitat, providing recreation, and enhancing overall resilience of ecosystems.
At Nebraska Land Trust flexible easements further long-term management objectives. As climate conditions present new management threats, it is important that conservation easements allow for the flexibility to mitigate and adapt to these impacts.
Given the complexity of climate change and associated threats, preparing to address impacts and minimize vulnerabilities through strategic conservation planning has become even more critical than ever.
The South Kingstown Land Trust (SKLT)’s vulnerability assessment and resulting conservation planning efforts identify organizational goals, natural resource assets, and management priorities. This iterative adaptive management approach enables the land trust to focus stewardship activities on critical ecosystems while allowing the flexibility to acknowledge uncertainties and revisit results. By integrating climate change adaptation considerations into conservation planning, SKLT is able to address changing environmental conditions using an informed and methodical approach, and to plan future acquisitions and restoration projects based on their stewardship objectives.
The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) focuses land management and acquisition efforts on maintaining and improving natural communities. When working to support ecological health, climate change is an import, but at times divisive concern. By focusing on resiliency, SWMLC is able to concentrate management planning discussions and implementation projects on ways to ensure that habitats are able to persist through constantly changing conditions.