Environment

Land Conservation in an Era of Climate Change

Our grant making is designed to provide frameworks and concrete examples of how practitioners can protect biodiversity in light of climate change through strategic land conservation. Our adaptation efforts focus on three critical land conservation activities undertaken by non-profit organizations and government natural resource agencies: (1) habitat conservation planning (i.e., the identification of which sites should be conserved in their natural state to benefit wildlife); (2) permanent land protection (i.e., the acquisition of conservation easements or fee title interests to secure high-priority sites); and (3) management of lands already in protected status. Our goal for each of these activities is to encourage the conservation community to augment the dominant species-based approach to wildlife conservation with a focus on maintaining ecosystem functionality as climate change takes hold. 

Strategy

Below are our approaches to achieving the above objectives:

  • Identifying resilient landscapes. To help determine the best places to conserve based on the changes we anticipate from climate change, we support efforts to develop methodologies for incorporating climate change considerations into habitat conservation planning. In particular, we support the development and application of methodologies pioneered by The Nature Conservancy to help habitat conservation planners identify landscapes that exhibit climate change resilience.
  • Protecting resilient landscapes. The Environment Program awards land capital grants to protect landscapes that have been identified as resilient to climate change and a high conservation priority at the regional level. For example, we awarded more than $12 million to the Open Space Institute to protect resilient, high-priority landscapes in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, and more than $6 million to The Nature Conservancy to undertake similar conservation actions in the Pacific Northwest.  
  • Managing conserved lands. While the above strategies are critical, it is also important that lands already in protected status be managed with climate change in mind. To address this need, we support the Climate Adaptation Fund, a national re-granting program managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, that funds on-the-ground adaptation projects throughout the United States. Watch a video about the program.