Posts Tagged ‘carbon’

How city parks help slow climate change

December 14, 2009

Corona Heights Park, San Francisco - Photo:William Poole

Over on  City Parks Blog, Ben Welle of  TPL’s Center for City Park Excellence is highlighting the role of city parks in addressing climate change.  Of the several ways conservation can help slow climate change, the creation of city parks is perhaps the least intuitive.  But it makes all kinds of sense once you understand that residents of compact cities produce fewer greenhouse gasses per capita than those living in outlying areas, and that close-to-home parks and greenways are essential in creating the kinds of cities where people really want to live. 

Several studies have shown that living in more compact settings can reduce emissions from transportation, with one indicating that vehicle miles traveled could be reduced per capita by up to 40 percent through better urban design.  Researchers have also found that if 60 percent of new development were compact rather than sprawling, the reduction in U.S. carbon production would be around 10 percent.

Assuming this smarter growth pattern, there will be more apartments and townhouses and fewer, smaller private yards. The desire for more trees in the public realm will rise. Residents of yardless dwellings will be anxious to have green spaces and public places to relax, recreate and socialize outdoors. Transit facilities and use will increase, and pedestrian and bikers will want safe routes.  For these and many other reasons there will be much more pressure for park systems that are beautiful, well-managed, nearby and accessible.

Read on at City Parks Blog

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Will Rogers promotes forests for a cooler climate

December 10, 2009

TPL President Will Rogers - Photo: Patrick Cone

Blogging at The Huffington Post, TPL president Will Rogers makes the case for the conservation of domestic forests to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. 

Much of the focus at this week’s climate summit in Copenhagen will be on capping the emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses. But another important focus will be on the protection of forests and other natural systems that absorb CO2 and keep it out of the atmosphere.

The need to prevent third-world deforestation is a well-established and vital global priority. Less well-known is the role our own domestic forests can play in absorbing and sequestering greenhouse gases.

Read on at The Huffington Post

More on TPL’s climate program

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Tackling Climate Change in Louisiana

November 17, 2009

Tesas River National Wildlife Refuge - Photo:Chris Granger

There are three ways that conservation can help address the climate crisis.  Conserved natural lands can help mitigate climate change by absorbing greenhouse gasses from the air.  Conservation can help humans and wildlife adapt to climate changes that are already underway.  And parks and greenways can help shape more densely populated, energy-efficient communities.  This tripartite approach–mitigation, adaptation, and climate-smart communities–is at the heart of TPL’s own Climate Conservation Program.)

Natural lands conservation along the Gulf Coast offers a chance to use several of these approaches at once, according to Don Morrow, one of TPL’s most experienced project managers in the Southeast.  I had a chance to talk with Don this morning in connection with a story I am working on for the spring issue of TPL’s Land&People magazine.

Don Morrow - Photo: Anne Nelson

Several years ago, Don began working on a project at Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Louisiana, where in the 1930s and 40s much of the native hardwood forests were stripped to grow cotton, soybeans, and other crops. The goal was to reforest this land for addition to the wildlife refuge.  And because rich, swampy bottomland is an ideal place for growing trees, a lot of carbon would be absorbed from the atmosphere and locked up in the forests as they grew–more than 3 million tons over seventy years.  Some of the money for the project came from electric utilities that purchased carbon credits to be used in any future carbon market.  An article in the fall 2007 issue of Land&People described this work in more detail.

Now Don is exploring similar work around Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge, near Franklin, Louisiana, which TPL helped to create in 2001.  The primary purpose of that refuge is to conserve habitat for the endangered Louisiana black bear.  TPL hopes to enlarge this habitat by replanting forests long ago cleared to grow sugar cane and adding them to the refuge.  Like the project at Tensas, this one will absorb significant carbon.  But because Bayou Teche is right on the coast, the work will also help reduce the effect of coastal storms associated with a warming climate.

“Trees grow relatively quickly in this climate, so we get good carbon numbers that make it financially viable to sell carbon credits,” Don says.

But at Bayou Teche, the work will also be about conserving the coast from wind and water.  “Open salt marsh doesn’t stop those,” Don says.  “But if you put trees into the equation, it all changes.  Trees slow the wind and soak up the storm surge.” 

Across coastal Louisiana, clearing of land and loss of forests has exposed natural and human communities to a kind of terror from the sea such as was experienced during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Replanting those forests will not only help mitigate for climate change by absorbing carbon, but will help protect the land from future storms made more powerful by a warming climate.

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Bill would expand role of forests in addressing climate change

November 7, 2009

As the climate change conversation proceeds in Washington, conservationists are working toward having final legislation include funding and incentives for sequestering carbon in agricultural lands and forests.   Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan along with other members of the Senate have now introduced a bill that would do this. 

According to Jad Daley, director of TPL’s Climate Conservation Program:

Forests can provide up to 80% of the initial domestic offsets we need to affordably implement a cap and trade system. Without including forests, the cost to consumers will be considerably higher. In addition, rewarding landowners for sequestering carbon in their woods is a good way to help slow the current loss of 1.5 million acres of private forestland each year.

A TPL press release detailing the provisions of the bill can be found here:

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Forests to the rescue

October 23, 2009
Photo: Jerry and Marcy Monkman

Photo: Jerry and Marcy Monkman

In a Concord Monitor op ed, TPL’s Jad  Daley says that in addition to being beautiful,  forests hold one answer to global warming.  Jad, who lives in Hardwick, Vermont, heads up TPL’s Climate Conservation Program.

As the glorious fall colors cause even longtime New Englanders to stop and admire our forests, it is worth considering what role our forests can play in solving two major challenges facing our region and country: the economy and climate change. The great news is that New Hampshire’s forests can significantly slow climate change by sequestering more carbon, and we can create much needed jobs in rural areas by paying landowners to undertake this work of “harvesting” additional carbon in our forests.

Read on at the Concord Monitor

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Forests and climate policy

September 28, 2009

1704_Oct09LLCover%20THUMBJust in time for the climate discussion that is ramping up in Congress comes an article in the latest Land Lines, the magazine of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.  The article, “The Role of Forests in U.S. Climate Policy” is by Laurie Wayburn of the Pacific Forest Trust–a nonprofit founded to help sustain private forests and one that was talking about the role of forests in absorbing green house gasses since before many Americans had even heard of climate change.

The article is available by free download on the institute’s website, but you will need to create a free account if you do not have one.  Wayburn did a fellowship at the institute, and this article is one result.  It is comprehensive, detailed, science-based, and well documented — academic, without being bogged down with numbers and formulas, and a worthy review of the topic. From her conclusion:

 Conservation and restoration of higher levels of carbon stocks in U.S. forests are key components of any comprehensive approach to achieving the contemplated goals of climate policy. . . . Linked but separate policies for federal and private forestlands allow for the most effective strategies to be used for each. Conservation easements are a key tool for land use and climate planning on private lands, providing significant incentives for landowners to participate in national efforts to increase the climate benefits of forests.


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