Building Landscape Resilience
March 16, 2018
Climate change and how we prepare for it is one of the biggest challenges we face today. Given the complexity of this issue and its myriad impacts, where do we begin the conversation? How does the land conservation community take action? To wrap our heads around this huge topic, the March 2018 Gathering of the Bay Area Open Space Council focused on “Landscape Resilience in a Changing Climate: From Concepts to Action.” We explored the role landscapes play in building resilience and heard from speakers who are bringing climate change science down to the ground in their work. And we developed the “Resilience Big Five” – a framework for having this important conversation – to look at how we incorporate landscape resilience into land conservation practice:
- Climate Change Science: Predictions, analysis, monitoring, and how we define resilience
- Climate-smart Land Protection: Safeguarding wildlife corridors, watershed connections, refugia, and lands optimal for sequestering carbon
- Climate-smart Land Management: Restoring natural water processes, reducing fire-causing fuels, conserving soil moisture, adaptive management, empowering private landowners
- Communicating Climate with the Public: Addressing concerns, communicating solutions, leading by example
- Integrated Climate Strategies: Integrated built and nature-based solutions, creating new partnerships, developing cooperative pathways to work together
Scientists, land managers, and a landscape architect talked about how they are monitoring, managing, thinking about, and designing landscapes for resilience, from the uplands to urban to coastal areas. And we discussed actionable next steps.
Landscape Resilience Gathering: Information Sheet
Here’s what was shared:
- Tom Robinson, Moderator, Director of Conservation, Science, and Innovation, Bay Area Open Space Council
- Defining landscape resilience as the resilience of nature at the landscape scale
- A recognition of all the climate and resilience work already underway at the state, regional and local levels
- “Simply by continuing our conservation work, we are doing something about climate change.”
- Recognizing the importance of protecting wildlife corridors and linkages across the landscape
- “We need to be more strategic, we need to do more, and the time to do this was yesterday.”
- The Resilience Big Five: climate change science, climate-smart land protection, climate-smart land management, communicating climate with the public, integrated climate strategies
- Robin Grossinger, Senior Scientist, San Francisco Estuary Institute
- IDing critical big-ticket actions and remembering that solutions lie beyond traditional boundaries.
- Resilience requires us to think bigger, both temporally and spatially.
- “Landscape resilience is the sum of all these different interconnected actions taken across the landscape.”
- Example of resilience: tidal marshlands can grow with sea level rise if there is sufficient sediment supply.
- Climate impacts ramp up in the latter half of the century, so let’s ID critical big-ticket actions now and make strategic acquisitions to protect both our human communities and the landscape.
- Urban areas can contribute to landscape resilience.
- Hayley Edmunston, Climate Resiliency Fellow, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
- MROSD’s Climate Program – Looking at management, strategies, and at carbon storage on lands. Lands can only do so much. Need to reduce emissions.
- “One of the best ways we can protect our land from climate change is by taking internal steps to reduce emissions and showcasing those efforts to the public. I believe in the importance of walking the walk and inspiring our communities to reduce emissions.”
- MidPen calculated its annual carbon sequestration on the lands it manages and also quantified the greenhouse gas emissions from MidPen’s operations. The lands sequester 25x the emissions from operations. In the regional context, however, MidPen lands’ offset just one-tenth of one-percent of the Bay Area’s emissions.
- We should aspire to model what greenhouse gas reduction solutions look like and communicate the feasibility of solutions to the public.
- “We are the natural leaders on demonstrating the low-carbon way of doing business. We need to think big and thick radical about what it would look like if we really were being a model for what the future will look like.”
- Communicating climate change recipe: communicate the imperative of the problem using relevant, local examples + communicate the solutions.
- Tosha Comendant, Conservation Science Manager, Pepperwood Preserve
- Pepperwood’s latest landscape connectivity assessed what connectivity exists between protected areas and modeled the potential climate benefits of these individual linkages over a 50-year horizon.
- What connectivity exists between protected areas? What are the climate benefits do the individual linkages offer, and how do they ensure long-term climate connectivity?
- “Core habitats and the connectivity between them need to be maintained and enhanced to build climate resilience.”
- The modeling work is driven by input from stakeholders to ensure the mapping is relevant at the parcel scale. The linkage mapping is designed to inform practitioner-led corridor planning.
- Modeling potential terrestrial and riparian linkages guides landscape resilience work by identifying priority areas to connect, protect and steward as the temperature heats up and habitat conditions shift.
- Pepperwood is interested to work with new partners, to expand the linkage modeling work to new counties, and to incorporate camera trap data and fire into the model.
- Fernando Cázares, California Manager – Climate-Smart Cities, Trust for Public Land
- The Climate-Smart Cities Project recognizes that some populations are especially vulnerable due to social, political, and economic inequities.
- Understanding where vulnerable populations live can help cities to prepare for natural disasters by acknowledging the social dimensions of climate vulnerability.
- In Richmond, the team developed an open-access web tool to identify and operationalize sea level rise risk and social vulnerability at a parcel level, guiding investments, advocacy, and green infrastructure development.
- “There is a level of scale and emergency that we all need to wrap our minds around.”
- The project aims to cool, connect, absorb, and protect.
- “Unless we start acting proactively and strategically, not only are our landscapes going to be impacted but a lot of these dangerous land uses will become more dangerous to our residents.”
- Marcel Wilson, Founder & Design Director and Principal, Bionic (Resilient By Design Participant)
- Ecologically principled thinking can drive landscape design.
- Breaking down silos by exploring designed synergies between urban and wild places.
- Climate change is making our complex problems worse but you can’t scare people into caring.
- Examples of Bionic’s landscape architecture projects: a tech campus built to support a wetland, a photovoltaic array designed to accommodate the California quail, seasonal wetlands designed to retreat as the sea level rises, a city park designed to store and process its own stormwater, and more.
Here’s a glimpse into what the day looked like:
See more on Flickr.
The Conversation Online
…and what attendees were saying about #OSCResilience on Twitter: