Climate Change: Adaptation strategy

We hear about climate change all the time in the news, but what exactly is it? How will it affect Central Oregon?

The Land Trust's climate change strategy identifies two main ways the Land Trust can address climate change: mitigation and adaptation.

Adaptation means making adjustments in our systems—human and natural—in response to current and future climate impacts. There are two main ways the Land Trust can help adapt to climate impacts:

  • We can help conserve nature’s stage.
  • We can help make our natural systems strong.

So how can the Land Trust help our communities adapt to climate change?

  • Conserve nature’s stage: Whether they like it or not, plants and animals have to respond to climate change’s impacts on habitats. When forced, a given species will generally attempt to either migrate (move to a different place) or adapt (change the way they live). When neither of these options is possible—due to too high of a rate of habitat change, too long of a distance required to migrate to suitable habitat, or a host of other factors—individual animals, and later entire species, die. The Land Trust can help plants and animals migrate or adapt by conserving lands that have high levels of geophysical diversity. Geophysical diversity, or “geodiversity,” includes permanent features of a landscape such as topography, soils, geology, and water resources. Collectively, these landscape features create the “stage” that nature needs to develop and support biodiversity. The more diverse the stage, the more diverse the plant and animal life that can thrive on it. Therefore, by “conserving nature’s stage,” we can help maintain a range of areas in which species can create habitats without having to completely relocate or drastically adapt.

    So how does the Land Trust conserve nature’s stage? We protect large, intact, natural landscapes with high levels of geodiversity where we can also maintain and restore ecological connectivity. Our work on Whychus Creek is a great example. During the last two decades we have protected more than 3,000 acres on the creek, creating the connected habitat that plants and animals need today and will continue to need in the face of climate change. These protected areas, particularly at Whychus Canyon Preserve, include diverse rock, stream, and soil features that support diverse, high quality habitat for a variety of species. As the climate continues to change, the conserved, connected stage along Whychus Creek will offer refuges and set plants and animals up for success even as the climate warms.

  • Help make our natural systems strong: The other way the Land Trust can help our lands adapt to climate change is by helping strengthen the natural systems at work on our protected lands. We want to ensure that our protected lands are as rich as possible with different kinds of habitats and species because rich lands can respond to disturbance (like climate change) more effectively. They simply have a more defenses against a changing climate. We can encourage this richness or biodiversity by effectively managing our lands. This includes restoring functioning natural systems like our creeks, wetlands, and wet meadows, bringing native plants and trees back, and ensuring forest stand diversity. The good news is that the Land Trust is already doing this work! We have been working for more than 20 years to ensure our protected lands are healthy and rich through careful stewardship and management. See how we helped make Camp Polk Meadow Preserve stronger with this cool visual! You too can help make our natural systems stronger by participating in Land Trust volunteer work parties or by simply becoming a Land Trust supporter.

 

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