KEY INITIATIVES: CLIMATE CHANGE
Responding to the profound challenge of climate change is built into WLC's Core Mission: " We will adapt to climate change and learn to live sustainably. We will support local communities to do the same through outreach and education, local policy initiatives, and by operating by example." (Vision 2020)
As a land trust, our protected lands, many of them forested, help absorb CO2 and offset greenhouse gases. Our conservation work can also reduce flooding impacts caused by the “new normal” of extreme weather events in our region. In 2018, a NYS grant helped us pursue additional initiatives to address climate change impacts, by working with regional experts and by offering a topical educational series to the public.
In the first case, we observed how climate change has altered local habitats and ecosystems, stressing plants, wildlife, water resources, agriculture, and the human community. Working with the environmental scientists of Hudsonia Ltd., WLC identified the parts of our service area that may be most important for maintaining native biodiversity and ecosystem functions in the changing environment.
In the second case, our work in outreach and education engaged our community in both mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects. Our educational program series, “Understanding Our Changing Environment,” focused on Water, Forest Health, and Green Infrastructure, a building style mimicking natural elements. Another well-attended event invited county-wide municipal leaders to explore Active/Alternative Transportation, and how walkable/bikeable community practices can be implemented here.
Additionally, we have focused our collaborative winter Film & Discussion Series on initiatives to reverse climate change, inspired by “Project Drawdown.” Our 2019 series offered attendees a deeper understanding of how the food cycle contributes tremendously to greenhouse gas emissions. With composting, reduction of food waste, and eliminating or reducing meat intake we collectively can have a tremendous impact. In 2020 our series focused on practices folks can implement at home. This included a community-wide launch of a Pollinator Pathway planting project to reverse the rapid decline of pollinating insect populations. (see description under “Programs & Events”). Participants learned how changing their home planting choices and mowing practices can create habitats hospitable to the local insects and bees which pollinate plants, including those essential to food production.