On a blustery Friday on the banks of the Columbia River, over 100 land trust practitioners from across the Pacific Northwest gathered to discuss one of the most pressing issues of our era: climate change.
Together, the land trust community wrestled with some fundamental questions: How can we best incorporate climate change into our conservation work? What is the role of a land trust in communicating the impacts of climate change? How can we use our connections to land to enhance resilience and improve carbon storage?
This was all part of November 16th’s “Integrating Climate Change into Conservation Strategies” training hosted by the Land Trust Alliance, the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts, and the Washington Association of Land Trusts in Vancouver, WA.
While the challenges posed by climate change are complex, this training assembled experts in landscape ecology, communications science, environmental policy, and beyond to help guide us in reaching for local solutions to such a global problem. We found some key takeaways:
- In the United States, nature has the potential to remove 21% of the nation’s carbon pollution by absorbing and storing carbon. This means that the work that land trust work in protecting, restoring, and stewarding our land and shoreline are a critical piece of any long-term effort to mitigate the effects of climate change.
- Some land trusts are tackling climate change head-on in their outreach and communications, and being the better for it.
- Between the carbon market, foundation support, and partnerships with businesses and agencies, the opportunities to help finance climate-related projects are only growing.
Over the course of many reflective, tough, and hopeful conversations that day, there was a growing realization among us all: climate change is something that threatens our collective mission to preserve important conservation values for the public good. At WALT, we are proud to continue efforts to turn this realization into reality for our member land trusts, and to continue sharing the importance of natural climate solutions with decision makers across the state.