Addressing Climate Change & Protecting Habitat
By protecting climate-resilient landscapes — defined as lands that will continue to be a haven for habitat, even as the climate changes — land trusts have a critical role to play in addressing climate change.
In 2018, OSI partnered with the Land Trust Alliance to launch a program to help land trusts respond to climate change. Funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the initiative builds on OSI’s work to provide land trusts with climate strategies, training, and tools. In the fall, the partnership debuted a report, “How to Talk About Climate Change,” which helps land trusts find helpful ways to connect with the public about the topic.
This year, OSI is laying the foundation for future flood mitigation in Conway, South Carolina, on the Waccamaw River. Conway was battered by Hurricane Florence when the river overflowed, but the protected forests and wetlands that comprise the land adjacent to the beleaguered, low-lying city will help mitigate future flood events brought about by climate change. Also on the Waccamaw River, more than seven miles of riverfront lands were protected thanks in part to a grant from OSI.
OSI’s climate conservation extended elsewhere in the South, including Tennessee where an OSI grant built on previous projects to expand a 60,000-acre wildlife corridor, and in Alabama, where a property similarly rich in habitat will provide a critical space for climate research at the headwaters of the Paint Rock River.
Land formerly owned by the Girl Scouts got a new life this year when added to the National Park Service’s Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The “Camp Hidden Falls” property offers essential habitat for a myriad of raptors and songbirds.
Finally, in New York, OSI protected more land for the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area, in the process connecting three state parks and building on a three-decade legacy of conservation in the region. The newly-protected land features highly climate-resilient, low-elevation limestone.