We’ve learned firsthand that you don’t have to be an environmentalist to appreciate nature or to understand the vast changes to the landscape we’ve experienced recently due to climate change.
Over the past several decades, millions of acres of forests have given way to farms, homes, and roads to support a growing global population. Forest loss has been hard on wildlife and our climate—accounting for nearly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, by some estimates.
In our northern climates, researchers report, sea ice is melting at an accelerated pace, leading to faster sea level rise. Melting ice and rising tides have immediate and lasting effects for our work to protect Alaska’s North Slope—critical habitat for the polar bear. In the Southeastern U.S., warmer sea surface temperatures have been linked to an increase in hurricanes in the Atlantic.
Global Problem, Local Solutions
From Alaska’s North Slope to Maryland’s Eastern shore, we’re working with groups like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to map where seas will rise, and then protect lands that that will allow vulnerable species to move and adapt. Across California’s North Coast, we are changing the way forests are harvested to trap CO2 and help support a sustainable timber economy.
As the nation’s need for energy increases, we are helping utilities make smarter choices with renewable resources, including working with the wind industry to implement better practices to protect birds and bats. And across the Gulf Coast, we are planting millions of trees to clean our air and slow flooding.
You can help. Start by reducing your own carbon footprint, and get familiar with our work to curb climate change. Chances are there’s a project making a difference in your neck of the woods. Here’s some of what we’re doing:
Trapping Carbon In Trees
Our Go Zero program works with leading companies and individuals to plant native trees that trap CO2 emissions, filter and clean water for communities downstream, control flooding, and create new habitat for wildlife. Our reforestation-based carbon programs have restored more than 26,000 acres with nine million trees since 2000. What’s your carbon footprint? Find out now and plant trees today.
We own and manage more than 54,000 acres of forestland along California’s North Coast: the Garcia River, Big River, Salmon Creek and Gualala River forests. These working forests support the local economy and store CO2. They were among the first—and largest—to receive verification as a source of greenhouse gas reductions under the protocols of the Climate Action Reserve. Revenue from carbon offsets helps restore the lands and maintain sustainable harvest levels over time. Trees do more than fight climate change, they also provide clean air, food and shelter for wildlife. Learn more >>
Responding To Sea Level Rise
North Slope, Alaska
As our Alaska representative, Brad Meiklejohn, puts it: “Alaska is front and center in the climate change discussion, and the changes are relentlessly dramatic. Fall storms are much more intense along the North Slope and the Brooks Range, and we are seeing arctic thunderstorms igniting tundra fires, an entirely new phenomenon.”
Winter temperatures are on the rise, too. At Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, winter temperatures in the area have increased as much as 5-7°F in the past 50 years. In Alaska, melting glaciers and rising tides mean less pack ice to protect Native villages from coastal erosion. According to USGS, coastal erosion is advancing as much as 50 feet per year in some places, literally chewing away traditional denning areas for polar bears.
Sea level rise and coastal erosion are reconfiguring coastal marshes, estuaries and streams throughout Alaska, changing the movement and lives of migratory waterfowl and fish. The Fund is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to identify and protect those lands that will allow species to move and adapt to climate change.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
Along the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland’s Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is under siege. Rising sea levels and storm surges associated with changes in our global climate have resulted in salt water intrusion, erosion from wind and wave action, and alterations in the natural hydrology of Blackwater’s rich marshes and forests. By the end of this century, much of the refuge could disappear under the rising tide.
We’re working with Audubon Maryland-DC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare a comprehensive plan to help slow this land loss and secure key migration corridors so that more of this iconic Eastern Shore ecosystem remains intact. Learn more >>
Supporting Renewable Energy
As concerns about climate change grow, so does interest in wind energy. In 2009, the U.S. wind industry supported 85,000 jobs. But proposed wind facilities across the Midwest have been delayed or even abandoned because endangered or threatened species are present at proposed site locations. Indiana bat, piping plover and other key species are often vulnerable.
To meet the demand for rapid approval of wind energy plants, yet ensure protection of endangered or threatened species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a coalition of eight states, The Conservation Fund, and representatives of the wind energy industry are preparing a Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan that covers 27 million areas and nine federally listed species that may be impacted by future wind energy projects in the Midwest. Learn more >>