Case Study Highlights: Ecosystem Services

Land trusts have been successful in implementing conservation projects that protect a wide range of ecosystem services while working to protect the places people love.

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.

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Marin Agricultural Land Trust – Enhancing Carbon Sequestration

The Marin Carbon Project is working to respond to the rapid pace of global climate change by enhancing carbon sequestration in rangeland, agricultural, and forest soils through applied research, demonstration, and implementation. These efforts aim to enable landowners and land managers of agricultural ecosystems to serve as stewards of soil health and to undertake carbon farming in a manner that can improve on-farm productivity and viability, enhance ecosystem functions, and stop and reverse climate change.

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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.

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Building Resilience with Natural Adaptations to Change

Bainbridge Island Land Trust is working with property owners to implement natural adaptation solutions to build more resilient coastal systems. The Powel Shoreline Restoration Project removed shoreline bulkheading to enhance coastal habitats and reduce risks of destructive undercutting, leveraging a failing bulkhead to produce an adaptive win-win solution to adapt to change.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Go Zero - The Conservation Fund’s Reforestation Program

The Conservation Fund’s forest carbon offset projects are developed with careful consideration of climate and community benefits. The Fund’s carbon program supports both conservation-based forest management and forest restoration projects in some of America’s favorite places.

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Pacific Forest Trust: Carbon Projects to Mitigate Climate Change

The Pacific Forest Trust is a pioneer of approaches and standards used to create forest climate policies including carbon emissions reductions or offset projects which harness and protect the natural ability of forests to accumulate and hold carbon, acting as carbon “sinks” and providing essential climate benefits.

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Wetlands Restoration - The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County

Wetlands restoration efforts on this working farm protect human land uses and improve the surrounding slough system.

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Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation: Resiliency Planning

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF) works to restore and preserve natural resources within the watershed. Restoration projects combined with community education and outreach to improve land management practices have yielded measurable water quality improvements. By increasing protection of natural features such as marshes, barrier islands, and ridges, conservation efforts help protect surrounding communities – both ecological and socio-economic – from the impacts of increasingly stronger hurricanes and sea level rise.

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