Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

Hart-Sheldon Wildlife Connectivity Project

Funding Favorite
Hart-Sheldon Wildlife Connectivity Project. The Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Oregon and the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada encompass a sensitive high desert landscape that is critically important for yearly migrations and wintering of pronghorn antelope. It also is a key habitat stronghold for sage grouse.

Working together, the Oregon Natural Desert Association and Friends of Nevada Wilderness are creating a wildlife corridor between the Oregon and Nevada refuges to help pronghorn antelope adapt to climate change.

Both the Hart Mountain and Sheldon refuges were created for the conservation of pronghorn antelope the 1930′s. Management has since grown to include conservation of a wide variety of wildlife as well as the restoration of native ecosystems found within the refuges.

The Harte-Sheldon project will work to maintain the overall integrity of the critical wildlife habitat and migratory corridors in the region between and around the refuges, known as the Hart-Sheldon complex. Partners will work with state and federal agencies and other groups to complete a climate change and resource vulnerability assessment, organize restoration opportunities, and complete on-the-ground activities such as fence removal and restoration of degraded springs.

How you can help
Funding is still needed to purchase spring exclosure fence packages and spring monitoring kits, both necessary to protect vital water sources for habitat integrity and survival of migrating animals. In-kind donations: they are also looking for fence removal tools, such as pliers, fence post pullers, work gloves, fencing materials, GPS units and cameras.

Support this project
Email Devon Comstock, Hart-Sheldon Conservation Coordinator for the Oregon Natural Desert Association.

Read more about the Greater Hart-Sheldon Ecosystem.

Want to highlight your Registry project on Funding Favorites? Email Kassandra Kelly.

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Wild Watch MacDonald Pass

Funding Favorite this week is Wild Watch MacDonald Pass, a climate change adaptation project from the Upper Missouri River in Montana, home of the wolverine and Canada lynx. The best tool we have for protecting our natural heritage against climate change is to learn as much as possible about the habits and habitats of the elusive creatures that share our ecosystem. And that’s exactly what partners in Montana are setting out to do.

Wild Watch’s project goal is to collect scientific information and build local support by organizing long-term wildlife monitoring projects in three important linkage areas in the Northern Rockies: Monida Pass west of Yellowstone National Park, the Bondurant Corridor south of Jackson, Wyoming, and MacDonald Pass west of Helena, Montana.

Partners include Defenders of Wildlife, Wild Things Unlimited, Winter Wildlands Alliance and Montana Wilderness Association. But more is needed!

Help wildlife by supporting the efforts of local communities to monitor and maintain their wildlife values. Contact Kylie Paul, Northern Rockies representative of Defenders of Wildlife.

Watch a wild wolverine video.

Want to have your Registry project highlighted in Funding Favorites? Email Kassandra Kelly.

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Carbon Sequestration Project Participation

Accounting Challenges to Landowner Participation in Carbon Sequestration Projects
By guest blogger David Wade

Crooked RiverEcologically-based carbon sequestration represents an opportunity to mitigate our impact on climate change. The United States’ crops, grasslands, soils, and forest sequester 14% of the nation’s carbon emissions.* The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a payment of a mere $15 per ton of carbon sequestered could entice landowners to boost ecological sequestration enough to offset 21% of the nation’s emissions.** It is clear that ecological sequestration could play a large role in the nation’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse gases.

However, the carbon accounting criteria of additionality, verifiability, leakage, and permanence, which are important to ensure the programs’ carbon benefits, require land use restrictions and complicated monitoring that may dissuade some landowners from undertaking carbon sequestration projects. This blog post suggests ways carbon purchasing programs can work with – and support — landowners to achieve significant levels of program participation.

Additionality and verifiability require that sequestration projects show measurable increases in carbon uptake.

  • Additionality requires that landowners conduct studies to determine what their net carbon emissions (emissions minus uptake) were before a project begins and what they will be after a project has started.
  • Verifiability requires that landowners pay the cost of monitoring their carbon emissions over time in order to prove they are meeting their carbon obligation.

At first, landowners may not have the technical expertise to undertake these studies, and may need to hire consultants to do the work. The monetary cost of hiring experts and time cost of learning complex monitoring systems may initially cause landowners to doubt the value of participation. Fortunately, the majority of the costs occur at project outset. Carbon purchasing programs can win landowner participation by providing assistance with costs, both monetary and time, as landowners learn how to manage their projects. Once the initial measurement requirements are met and knowledge gaps are bridged, landowners will be more than capable of meeting their reporting requirements.

Leakage and permanence both threaten to dissuade landowner participation by limiting land use options.

  • Leakage is carbon emissions that partially or fully offset the carbon uptake of a landowner’s sequestration project. Programs aim to limit leakage as much as possible since leakage undermines a project’s carbon benefits.
  • Permanence is the goal of ensuring that carbon reduction lasts for the duration of a project’s contract. Not many landowners will be thrilled to learn that leakage and permanence may limit them to only engaging in land use activities that are carbon neutral.

Landowners know they have to protect themselves against an uncertain future, and their best bet lies in maximizing their ability to generate revenue from their land. If programs are going to overcome landowner aversion to limiting land use options, then programs need to provide landowners with ways of protecting themselves against unforeseen losses such as flood, fire, or other catastrophic events. If the conditions for opting out of the program are well defined, contract termination clauses may provide the flexibility and assurance landowners require in order to consider participation.

If this blog post shows nothing else, it shows that carbon accounting criteria give landowners legitimate reasons for being wary of participating in carbon sequestration projects. Fortunately, carbon purchasing programs can do much to earn landowner participation by providing technical and financial assistance as well as means of opting out in the face of unforeseen losses. These options are useful considering how much the nation’s biological systems can offer in mitigating climate change.

What do you think? Comment below!

David Wade is a recent recipient of a MPA from the University of Oregon and drew on his thesis research on forest-based carbon sequestration projects to form his insights about how conservation accounting criteria may impact landowner participation levels. He aims to put these ideas to use assisting conservation organizations secure high levels of landowner participation. Contact him at dwade@uoregon.edu if you have any questions or think he might make a good addition to your staff.

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* Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2009). Executive Summary: Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2007. USEPA #430-R-07-002. Washington, D.C., pp 15.

** Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2005). Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Potential in U.S. Forestry and Agriculture. USEPA #430-R-05-006. Washington, D.C., ch 4. pp19.

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Adaptation Reserve Program

The Next Generation of Ecosystem Market Tools

by Doug Parsons, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission

Florida alligatorDefenders of Wildlife has been a leader in developing effective and innovative ecosystem service tools, as their recent work attests. Defenders can also take the lead in identifying the next generation of ecosystem service market tools–those which can quantify the value of ecosystem services by adaptation in the face of climate change.

In Florida, the greatest threat from climate change is likely to be sea level rise. Currently, we can look at existing habitats and quantify their economic value in regard to their ability to maintain clean water or clean air, but what value, if any, do they have in a changing climate? Florida dunesA particularly healthy ecosystem might have had X value in regards to how it provided clean water, but can we find additional value for this same land based on its adaptation functions? For example, if maintaining healthy and resilient terrestrial systems helps with northern species migration that is expected to occur with higher temperatures, do these lands now have new economic values based on these new climate response functions? In 2004, mangrove systems famously played a role in mitigating the impact of the tsunami in Southeast Asia. These same systems in Florida could help play a role in mitigating the impacts of sea level rise. Can we put a dollar value on this ‘adaptation value’? I think we can. Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is considering funding a State Wildlife Grant project to look at how people value ecosystem services in respect to sea level rise. We hope these kinds of projects will help set the stage for developing new economic tools that will provide financial incentives to landowners to help maintain resilient ecosystems in the face of climate change.

I’m optimistic we can develop more sophisticated ways to define ecosystem services, including valuing adaptation functions, which in turn could be powerful tools in preserving natural systems. Although this is new territory for all of us, investing in adaptation today will be cheaper than trying to restore or maintain healthy ecosystems decades from now. We already invest billions of dollars in programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, why not create an Adaptation Reserve Program? In the coming years, carbon markets offer a huge opportunity for adaptation funding. The emphasis on carbon mitigation will hopefully shift, at least partly, toward adaptation funding. Governments and businesses will recognize that a certain amount of warming is going to occur, so now is the time to identify new sources of adaptation funding.

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Climate Change in the Registry

In the spirit of the season which includes best wishes for the year—and years—to come, the Conservation Registry now includes fields addressing climate change.

Camp Sherman, Oregon1. Actions
If greenhouse gas offsets are part of your project, go to the Actions tab, select the category “Enhanced Conservation Status”, sub-category “Conservation / Mitigation Banks” and select “Greenhouse gas offsets.”

2. Goals and Targets
Under the Goals and Targets tab, the checklist which asks your primary motivation for the project now includes Climate Change Adaptation and Ecological Carbon Sequestration as choices. On the same page, the next question asks if your project is consistent with a plan, and Climate Change Strategy is given as one of your choices.

3. Quick Searches on the Home page
A new series of Quick Searches on the Registry’s home page feature those projects that have specified climate change activities.

If you want to update your project information with our new climate change options, please do so!

Let us know what you think constitutes a climate change adaptation/conservation project with your comment below.

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