What to do about climate change? “Birds Are Telling Us It’s Time To Act.”
July 1, 2022 — Targeted, aggressive land preservation and restoration can help Connecticut and other states meet their climate change goals. An added benefit: the work would protect and improve habitat for scores of native birds.
A day after yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in West Virginia v. EPA, limiting the agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions, it’s worth looking back to Connecticut Audubon’s 2021 Connecticut State of the Birds report, titled “Three Billion Birds Are Gone. How Do We Bring Them Back?”
It included an article by Brooke Bateman Ph.D., director of climate science for the National Audubon Society.
In “Birds Are Telling Us It’s Time to Act on Climate Change: Natural Climate Solutions Show the Way,” Bateman writes that the biggest threat to the recovery of birds is climate change.
But quick, well-chosen actions can reduce the harm done to 75% of North America’s birds.
Doing so will benefit birds and help reach the state’s carbon reduction goal.
Among the most important things Connecticut residents can do is support and advocate for land preservation.
In State of the Birds 2021, our recommendations included: “Pick up the pace of land protection in Connecticut. The state has not come close to its official goal of protecting 21 percent of the land in Connecticut by 2023. Focus on areas identified as “climate strongholds” in the Natural Climate Solutions Report. With literally hundreds of conservation organizations, governments, and agencies able to work on this, Connecticut has the ability to make a big difference quickly.
“Land acquisition remains the best way to protect habitat. Governor Lamont and the Connecticut General Assembly must restore, fully fund, and protect the Community Investment Act as a source of open space funding.
“Similarly, we call on state officials to increase funding for the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program, and the Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program and look for new and innovative ways to fund land conservation and stewardship.”
Click HERE to join Connecticut Audubon’s Climate Advocacy Coalition.
As Bateman wrote, the reason this is important is that “forests keep large stores of carbon locked in plants and soils, providing the best opportunity for total carbon storage.”
In Connecticut, there are 1.5 million such acres that are a priority to protect, maintain, and restore.
You can read a PDF of Bateman’s article HERE.
For a copy of the 2021 Connecticut State of the Birds report and a readers guide to the issue, click HERE. In February 2022, Bateman appeared as part of Connecticut Audubon’s Young, Gifted and Wild About Birds series. The video of her presentation is below.
In her article, Bateman wrote:
“Audubon’s Natural Climate Solutions Report: Maintaining and Restoring Natural Habitats to Help Mitigate Climate Change (2021) identifies areas that are important for carbon storage and sequestration. It also identifies areas that support birds under climate change, areas called Climate Strongholds. The places where these two kinds of areas overlap are key. They include forests, wetlands, coasts, grasslands, aridlands, and green spaces in cities and suburbs. They offer an opportunity to help solve the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis simultaneously.
“Some of these areas are prime candidates for sustainable management and conservation actions; we’ve identified these as priority areas to maintain. Others have been modified by human actions or disturbances. We’ve identified these as priority areas to restore. With targeted conservation, management, and restoration actions, these areas can have increased value for birds and draw down considerably more carbon than they do now. Combined, these priority areas already store over 100 billion tons of carbon. If human disturbance is minimized, they have the potential to sequester up to twice as much carbon per year as they do currently while also improving bird habitat. That gets us to 23.2 percent of the country’s 2016 commitment to the Paris Agreement while also helping to build resilience for birds.
“In Connecticut, there are more than 1.5 million acres of priority areas to maintain and restore. Collectively they store over 500 million tons of carbon. … These include landscape-scale Important Bird Areas such as the Lyme Forest Block along the east side of the lower Connecticut River, and the Macedonia Forest Block, in Litchfield County. The keys are to preserve, protect, and restore large forests and to restore native plants and forests in suburbs and cities. These actions will also benefit forest birds such the climate-vulnerable Wood Thrush.
“Coastal wetlands, a priority area to restore, also pack a big carbon mitigation punch, storing more carbon per acre than any other ecosystem across the state. These coastal areas have undergone extensive change as a result of human activities and urbanization. Restoration of these areas in Connecticut can lead to 2.5 times more carbon drawdown per year, improving the habitats for coastal birds.”