How is the Land Trust Community Working to Mitigate Climate Change?

Climate change mitigation involves efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Mitigation activities may include increasing the use of renewable energy technology, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing management practices or consumer behavior. From implementing management strategies to sequester carbonavoid deforestation and promote reforestation, to encouraging appropriate renewable energy siting or socially responsible investment and divestment from fossil fuels, there are many ways the conservation community can encourage climate change mitigation among land owners and local communities.

Mitigation may prompt a range of policy discussions and actions. In a recent survey of land trusts, 60% of respondents said they were building awareness or incorporating climate change into their conservation efforts. By considering the impacts of climate change in their normal land conservation activities, land trusts can provide strategic investments and effective land management to help reduce the vulnerability of natural areas, working lands, and the human communities that depend on them. Mitigation case studies highlight how some land trusts are encouraging mitigation through land use interventions as well as leading by example to adopt green energy technologies and support sustainable growth policies.

Mitigation through Land Use Interventions

As stewards of the land, conservation organizations can play a unique role to encourage and practice climate change mitigation. From engaging in regional planning, like the Jefferson Land Trust, to actively acquiring critical properties slated for development, as the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust did with their Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge, land trusts are developing expertise to facilitate less carbon-intensive land uses by effectively influencing land use planning processes. Some groups, such as the Vermont Land Trust, structure their agricultural conservation easements to allow the use of small-scale renewable energy technology and infrastructure, which can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions as well as offer an example of good stewardship practices that may inspire other community members.  Other groups, such as the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, Pacific Forest Trust, and The Conservation Fund, have identified and implemented opportunities for carbon projects that avoid or offset greenhouse gas emissions in concert with other management objectives.    

Mitigation by Example – Conservation Leadership at Work

By planning for climate change, your land trust is already making a positive impact in your community. You can extend that reach by connecting with your audience, raising their awareness and inspiring action to reduce emissions and thus the impacts of climate change.

By raising awareness and calling for individual and community climate action, land trusts can play a critical role in guiding future land use planning in their region. Ultimately, land trusts may be able to help shape climate change policy, reduce community-wide carbon footprints and enhance the resilience of natural and developed environments to climate change impacts.

Inspiring climate change action in your community involves three steps:

  1. Raise awareness of climate change, and how it affects the things your audience cares about.
  2. Engage your community through publications and programs.
  3. Launch climate action projects in your community.

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