In an era of declining public conservation finance, land trusts are increasingly seeking alternative sources of revenue for much needed organizational capacity, stewardship, and land protection funding. Since the launch of California’s cap-and-trade program in 2013, more than a dozen lands trusts have engaged in forest offset project development and have generated significant revenue from their sustainably managed forests. Over the past seven years, these land trusts and their project development partners have learned many important lessons and charted a successful path to market. However, due to market access barriers including high project development costs many land trusts with more modest forest ownerships have effectively been screened out of the market. To overcome these challenges, the Land Trust Alliance and Finite Carbon are collaborating to assist Land Trust Alliance member land trusts in climate change planning and carbon offset project development. In this session, participants will learn about innovative tools under development to facilitate land trusts of smaller forest holdings in accessing forest carbon offset markets, including legal agreements for pooling lands between aligned landowners into joint projects. This initiative facilitates land trusts in accessing the voluntary forest carbon markets via staff and board education, project feasibility analysis and evaluation, and project development. In addition to charting a path to market for land trusts of varying sizes, this session will give participants a working knowledge of forest offset project development mechanics, roles and responsibilities of project partners, deal structures, project costs and revenues, and offset market function and forecast.
In April 2020, the Environmental Policy Innovation Center released Conservation of Defense, a report that demonstrates that the Department of Defense (DoD) plays a crucial role in land conservation, natural resource restoration, and, more recently, climate resilience. DoD owns and manages over 25 million acres of land across the country. Many of these properties are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Recurrent flooding, droughts, extreme wildfires, and rising sea levels are among the threats that military installations currently face. These same risks impact food security, water security, and environmental security, which are critically important to the national defense mission. In response, Congress incorporated language into the Fiscal Year 2019 and 2020 National Defense Authorization Acts that allows the DoD’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) and Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program to fund projects that enhance or improve military installation resilience. Recognizing that resilience is a long-term, multifaceted pursuit, DoD is working with partners across the Federal government and within the private sector, such as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, to implement comprehensive solutions to climate challenges. During the session, attendees will learn about several of DoD’s ongoing efforts through OEA and REPI, as well as emerging opportunities to address military installation resilience through strategic partnerships.
This session will give an overview of the C-Change Conversations Primer that has been widely and successfully presented to moderate and conservative audiences across the country, reaching more than 8,000 people to date. The non-confrontational, nonpartisan approach of the presentation is effective with groups who feel uncomfortable talking about climate change. Reaching groups like land trust supporters to deliver compelling data from trusted sources is critical to expanding our country's understanding of the risks of a changing climate and to shifting the perception of climate change from a political issue to a human one that will affect everyone. Learn how the presentation can be tailored to local communities showing projected temperatures and seal level rise based on an average of 26 different climate models. Case studies will be presented that communicate the important role that land trusts have to play in greenhouse gas mitigation and the development of resilient communities. Participants can share information and exchange ideas about best practices when making the connection between land trusts and climate change.
Imagine you live in a small town surrounded by twenty-year-old Douglas fir trees originally destined for harvest, but the landowner puts the parcel up for sale for a residential subdivision. Would your land trust buy this scenic property, knowing that you might have to harvest some timber to finance the purchase? This workshop introduces the framework of “Community Forests” and offers anecdotes gathered from across the Pacific Northwest.
In the Pacific Northwest, over 30 practitioners and experts representing community-based organizations, land trusts, counties and jurisdictions, private corporations, and regional and national non-profit organizations came together in 2015 to form the NW Community Forest Coalition. Created in response to the growing pressure on Northwest forests from increasing population, development, and climate-related disturbances, Coalition members have a shared vision that the community forest model will help stem the tide of forest loss, fragmentation, and degradation, while supporting an array of ecological services and providing fuel, fiber, jobs and recreation to surrounding communities.
Drawing from case studies published by members of the Coalition, this workshop presents participants with a balanced look at challenges and triumphs experienced by stakeholders in the region.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are major threats to the health and well-being of our communities. Land conservation has the potential to play an increasing role in keeping communities safe during the pandemic, contribute to economic recovery, slow global climate change, and provide resilience to natural disasters like flooding and wild fire. This session will help attendees use best-available data, science, and tools to effectively communicate the multiple benefits of land conservation, prioritize the conservation of carbon rich landscapes, develop allies, foster relationships with nontraditional advocates, and leverage partnerships to advocate for land conservation outcomes. We will introduce attendees to the relevant economic benefits that conservation generates, from jobs creation and economic development to improved public health. We will also discuss how to use climate data, including the Forest Carbon Map and other tools, to advocate for land conservation.
This session will focus on understanding the forest management undertaken to restore resilience, diversity and productivity to the 7,200 acre van Eck forest. This is a practical overview discussion, and we will look at aspects of natural forest management, silviculture, conservation easement drafting and climate adaptation and resilience in this coastal Douglas Fir system, as well as financial aspects of the forest’s management. The coastal temperate rainforests of Oregon are among the most productive and carbon rich globally, with trees living for hundreds of years and serving as astounding forest carbon banks. Intensive commercial management has vastly simplified these forests to focus on fiber production, with harvests every three decades. This has major consequences for carbon emissions, habitat, and watershed function and biodiversity. Can these trends be reversed, and if so, will it help or harm local economies? The van Eck was a young, homogenous forest, dominated by 20-year old planted stands, when PFT conserved it and took over its management 20 years ago. Our goal was to restore it to a mature natural forest of mixed species composition, with old growth characteristics, while demonstrating long term, complementary ecologic and economic return. The forest has been managed annually, removing enough timber to frame over 1,500 houses of 2,000 sq. ft. and over 5 million reams of paper, all while doubling the carbon on site, in a more resilient forest of larger trees and more diverse composition. Forest management is guided by a clear set of terms and requirements in the conservation easement, with a requirement to also have a rolling 10-year management plan. These will also be discussed for their applicability (or not!) to other situations.
Renewable energy development is blossoming across the country, from solar panels on buildings and homes to utility-scale commercial wind and solar projects on farmland. Many land trusts have received requests to permit renewable energy projects of every shape and size on land to be protected by new conservation easements and land already protected by existing conservation easements. This session will cover when and under what conditions a land trust may allow renewable energy development on land subject to a conservation easement. The speakers will explain the scope and impacts of different types of projects, analyze those projects under Land Trust Standards and Practices and federal tax law, discuss sample easement provisions to address issues raised, and provide an analytical framework for assessing whether renewable energy is appropriate for a particular property. The session will also briefly highlight innovative renewable energy projects currently in process involving land trusts across the country.
Land protection is an essential strategy for conserving biodiversity and maintaining nature’s services under climate change. A protected network of climate resilient sites and linkages would go a long way towards sustaining the diversity of plants and animals in the US while storing substantial amounts of carbon, creating cleaner air and water, and facilitating nature’s adaptation. This climate resilience session will unveil the final U.S.-wide resilience dataset and discuss observations about resilience across the nation. Hundreds of land trusts are actively applying this science and the session will present case studies from across the country where the science is being put into practice. The session is designed to give you an understanding of this important science and the tools you need to get started incorporating climate resilience into your land protection work.
American cities are growing in population and diversity. They also increasingly struggle with flooding, wildfires, drought, and heat waves; climate impacts vary by region. The “urban heat island effect” is well-known, and it’s easier every year to fry an egg on the sidewalk in July. It’s even easier in certain neighborhoods: marginalized low-income communities of color, especially those in larger cities, have less access to green spaces that cool surface temperatures, and so they bear the brunt of heat waves. Land trusts have done excellent work to protect ecologically important and sensitive lands at threat from development or resource extraction – but less so in urban settings. Access to urban green space sits at the intersection of social justice, community health, and climate resilience. Land trusts could be natural partners for urban organizations serving communities that historically have had less choice of where to live, have had less access to resources, and face the greatest climate impacts. With an interdisciplinary panel sharing stories and lessons from groups already doing this work, this session will give you tools to cultivate unlikely partnerships and set an inclusive strategy – and to make the case for why that matters to your land trust.
Climate change is a global crisis that is increasingly demanding the attention of elected officials, the public and the philanthropic community. How are land trusts rethinking their roles and work in light of climate change?
Some are focusing on the role that natural solutions, including protection and restoration of forests and wetlands, can play in sequestering carbon and improving resiliency to a changing climate. Some are advocating for solar and wind development that is sited in an environmentally responsible manner. Others find themselves dealing with proposed energy infrastructure that threatens preserved lands and natural resources, such as pipelines or transmission lines.
We will discuss how specific land trusts have adjusted their priorities and programs to address climate change, including work to advance natural solutions to climate change, policy work to support well-sited renewable energy and efforts to stop energy sprawl from damaging important lands.
This session will focus on the intersection of climate resiliency, large landscape connectivity, and private lands conservation. We will feature a presentation on a national survey currently being conducted by the Center to assess whether and how land trusts are incorporating connectivity into conservation efforts. Survey methods and results will be discussed. During this presentation we will also present information about a practitioner’s toolkit that the Center is developing based on survey results with the goal of providing land trusts and partners with science, maps, policy information, case studies and additional information to help land trusts incorporate connectivity efforts into their operations. The second part of the session will include an interactive workshop to gather additional insights and feedback from participants on the development of the toolkit. This workshop will give attendees an opportunity to provide additional insights into the toolkit components that will best serve their organizations and communities, learn more about the need to incorporate connectivity into land conservation efforts.
The long debate between leaving forests in a natural condition versus managing them to provide wood products is as relevant to land trusts as it is to large public owners - particularly during a climate emergency. This session brings together the executive directors from two New England organizations, the Northeast Wilderness Trust and the New England Forestry Foundation -two organizations seemingly on opposite sides of the conservation spectrum. These two organizations have joined in a dialogue to weave together different perspectives and develop a common, expanded framework for forests as a natural climate solution. The two speakers will switch roles for the first half of the session, each speaking for the mission and goals of the other. The session starts by covering important conservation attributes that can be achieved or not achieved by implementing either wildland or forest management practices. Two new conservation tools will be introduced - NEWT's Wildlands Partnership which assists in supporting and designating parcels as forever wild and NEFF's Pooled Timber Income Fund, which helps landowners and land trusts receive yearly income from Exemplary Forestry practices. Current scientific research will help identify the trade-offs from management or forever wild and place them in context of larger conservation goals and ecosystem services. Participants will leave with a new framework for analysis of their own lands and decision on how to treat them.