Case Studies

Adaptation Case Studies

Adaptation involves taking practical actions to manage risks from climate impacts, protect communities, and strengthen the resilience of ecosystems. These case studies highlight the many ways land trusts are already working to assess impacts and reduce risks to people and the environment through stewardship solutions.

Planning for Marsh Migration at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Blackwater 2100 is a collaborative strategic conservation plan that aims to address salt marsh loss and migration in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.

Scenic Hudson: Projecting and Buffering Against Sea Level Rise Impacts

In New York, Scenic Hudson is conserving land in 82 communities in ten counties along the Hudson River to buffer against future sea level rise impacts. By targeting key properties for acquisition efforts, this land trust is working to ensure that natural processes such as marsh migration can continue to provide valuable ecological services as well as mitigate the effects of rising waters throughout the estuary.

South Kingstown Land Trust – Integrating Adaptation into Conservation Planning

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 Elkhorn Slough Foundation – Clearing the Floodplain, Adapting to Change

The ESF has been responding to potential climate change impacts by working cooperatively to study and address salt marsh loss. In addition to working with agencies and regional research facilities, ESF conservation projects such as constructing water control structures to adapt to rising sea levels and acquisition and management efforts to “clear the floodplain” address climate change challenges by allowing for migration of tidal marshes and building ecological resilience.

The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust – Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge

Sea level rise amplifies hazards such as coastal erosion, inundation due to storm surge, extreme tides, and tsunami, and is projected to lead to more frequent and increasingly severe flooding. To respond to these threats conservation efforts on the 277-acre Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge aim to mitigate impacts of sea level rise, promote habitat restoration, and support food security and community sustainability.

The Nature Conservancy CA – Connecting Multiple Resource Benefit Management to Resiliency Planning

To inform management decisions in the region, TNC-CA and partners conducted comprehensive climate change planning and vulnerability assessments for this area. The climate change planning effort began by identifying six key species and habitats in the Mount Hamilton project area.

Vermont Land Trust – Targeted Acquisitions for Wildlife and Ecosystems

The Vermont Land Trust executed a targeted 163 acre land acquisition to help struggling black bears move between the Green Mountain and Taconic ranges. Working to connect these vast open spaces in Vermont and New York enhances the ability of bears to move from their home ranges to feeding habitat, and increases connectivity for a variety of wildlife.

Watch Hill Conservancy – Building Knowledge to Respond to Change

In Rhode Island, the Watch Hill Conservancy (the Conservancy or WHC) works to preserve, conserve, maintain, and enhance the scenic, open space and historical values and the character of the area. In addition to promoting preservation, the Conservancy runs educational programs and works to acquire and preserve interests in real property in order to support the continued vitality and sustainability of the community. WHC partners with the Watch Hill Fire District to protect and manage the Napatree Point Conservation Area, a dynamic peninsula system that includes diverse ecosystem types and offers a variety of educational and recreational opportunities to people in this region.

Winyah Bay and Pee Dee River Basin Conservation and Resiliency Planning

The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina (TNC SC) is integrating climate change in coastal land protection and restoration. Sea level rise, coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion are already altering inland and coastal habitats within the dynamic Winyah Bay and surrounding ecosystems.