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What Gets Measured, Gets Done: Putting Climate Science to Work

(July 22, 2022) - In the face of increasingly severe weather, communities across the country are turning to land protection as a tried-and-true strategy for climate mitigation and adaptation.

For more than a decade, OSI has been helping land trusts and other groups that protect and steward land develop effective approaches for conserving land in a rapidly changing climate. Working alongside a capital grants program that funds the acquisition of land to store carbon, OSI has supported the development of roughly 60 climate-aligned conservation plans across the east and offered workshops, webinars, and trainings to more than 6,000 participants.

Now, in partnership with the Land Trust Alliance (the Alliance), OSI through its Land and Climate Grant Program is expanding training opportunities for important conservation decision-makers.

To date, these workshops have helped the broadest set of land trusts, state land protection agencies, and nonprofits integrate forest carbon considerations into strategic conservation plans, project selection, and land management.

For example, this month OSI and the Alliance hosted 30 participants from 16 organizations — including attendees from non-profits, academia, and the public sector through a “Forest Carbon Information Exchange” workshop.

During the training, participants learned three strategies for increasing carbon benefits on their land protection projects. And, they learned how to use data that tells us where the most forest carbon is stored or sequestered to prioritize land protection across their service region.

OSI’s approaches, which make use of freely available broad-scale carbon data developed by researchers at Clark University, are especially new and innovative since few, if any, such models exist for land practitioners to use and replicate in the field.

Equipped with knowledge about where carbon is stored in the landscape, groups can make informed decisions about their day-to-day conservation strategies, to ensure that the land they work so hard to protect is actually helping mitigate carbon. Examples of these strategies can include 1) protecting forests that already store high amounts of forest carbon from development or heavy harvest; 2) protecting and then restoring degraded forests; or 3) prioritizing forests that will store the most carbon by 2050, a critical climate tipping point.

Later this year, OSI’s Abigail Weinberg will present on the topic at the annual national Land Trust Rally, alongside staff from the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science and the Alliance’s own Land and Climate Program.

“OSI’s workshops are an exceptional opportunity for applying a scientific lens on land conservation practitioners’ day-to-day climate work on the ground,” said Weinberg, OSI’s Director of Research. “With the right data and tools from OSI’s trainings, these practitioners can maximize the carbon mitigation of their work These organizations are embedded in communities across the country and are best able to get this work done. The trainings make the connection that their local work can address one of our most pressing global problems.”

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