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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Category Archive: Adaptation and Nature-based Solutions

  1. SF Bay Area Resilient by Design- Design Team presentations live streamed May 17th

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    The final two days of events – the Designing Our Future | The Resilient Bay Summit will take place on May 17th and 18th. This summit will serve both to share what we have learned and to build on the momentum of the Bay Area Challenge.

    The Design Team presentations will take place from 8:30am – 6:30pm on May 17th at The San Francisco Jazz Center, 201 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94102. This event will be live streamed via our Youtube channel so that communities throughout the region can easily view and learn from the presentations.

    For more information on the Summit, visit www.resilientbayarea.org/summit

  2. Earth Optimism: 9 Reasons to Feel Positive About the Planet

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    By April 17, 2018 Read full TNC blog article here

    ….It’s Earth Week, and we are joining a campaign to share stories of #EarthOptimism. I am sharing some of those optimistic stories here. You can also follow the #EarthOptimism hashtag on Twitter for more hope and inspiration, from Cool Green Science writers, Nature Conservancy Chief Scientist Hugh Possingham (@HugePossum) and many others.

    A common thread in many of these stories is that people kept working even when it looked like hope was lost. Keep working, stay optimistic and enjoy your world. It’s what will shape a better future for people and nature.

    • Saving Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers Through Science and Ingenuity….

    • Coastal Wetlands Saved $625 Million During Hurricane Sandy…

    • After 250 Years of Dams, A River Restored for Migratory Fish…

    • Citizen Science Is Growing…

    • Fighting Fire with Native Plants…

    • Seaweed Farming: A Gateway To Conservation and Empowerment…

    • Saving Terrapins from Drowning in Crab Trap…

    • Emerging Trends that Bring Hope in 2018…

    • Elk in the Neighborhood: On Losing Hope…

     

     

     

  3. Nature-based solutions can prevent $50 billion in Gulf Coast flood damages– Restoration of marshes and oyster reefs are among the most cost-effective solutions

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    • Wetland and reef restoration can yield benefit-to-cost ratios greater than seven to one, meaning more than $7 in direct flood-reduction benefits for every $1 spent on restoration.
    • Future flood risks from coastal hazards will grow, and that the major driver of risk in the Gulf is coastal development, particularly for the most extreme and costly events: the more people and property exposed to coastal hazards, the greater the flooding risk. Climate change, however, will result in more frequent losses. Events causing $100 billion in damages may become approximately three times more frequent in the future, the study found.

    April 12, 2018 University of California – Santa Cruz Read full ScienceDaily article here

    While coastal development and climate change are increasing the risk of flooding for communities along the US Gulf Coast, restoration of marshes and oyster reefs are among the most cost-effective solutions for reducing those risks, according to a new study.

    …the study compares the cost effectiveness of nature-based and artificial solutions for flood reduction across the Gulf of Mexico. The results clearly demonstrate the value of nature-based solutions such as marsh and oyster-reef restoration. Overall, wetland and reef restoration can yield benefit-to-cost ratios greater than seven to one, meaning more than $7 in direct flood-reduction benefits for every $1 spent on restoration. Many artificial solutions (such as levees and home elevation) have benefit-to-cost ratios near or below one-to-one; their benefits can be high, but they are expensive to implement at scale.

    The study was led by researchers at UC Santa Cruz, the Nature Conservancy, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at ETH Zurich. It applied the Economics of Climate Adaptation (ECA) approach, which was developed by reinsurance company Swiss Re and partners to understand what drives coastal risk and to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of adaptation options…..

    …The new study quantified the flood risks to people and property for the entire U.S. coast of the Gulf of Mexico under current and future climate scenarios and economic growth projections. It showed that future flood risks from coastal hazards will grow, and that the major driver of risk in the Gulf is coastal development, particularly for the most extreme and costly events: the more people and property exposed to coastal hazards, the greater the flooding risk. Climate change, however, will result in more frequent losses. Events causing $100 billion in damages may become approximately three times more frequent in the future, the study found.

    ….”We show that nature-based measures for flood reduction can be considered right alongside artificial or gray measures such as seawalls in industry-based benefit-cost models. This removes a major impediment for engineers, insurers, and risk management agencies for building coastal resilience more naturally,” said project team leader Michael Beck, lead marine scientist at the Nature Conservancy and a research professor at UC Santa Cruz.

    …The team developed open-source software based in part on Swiss Re’s natural catastrophe model to assess flood risks and adaptation solutions. All of the results and maps showing the cost effectiveness of adaptation solutions under future climate change and development scenarios are available in an interactive mapper available online at CoastalResilience.org.

    Borja G. Reguero, Michael W. Beck, David N. Bresch, Juliano Calil, Imen Meliane. Comparing the cost effectiveness of nature-based and coastal adaptation: A case study from the Gulf Coast of the United States. PLOS ONE, 2018; 13 (4): e0192132 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192132

  4. Seagrass and kelp as nature-based solutions: CA lawmakers take aim at ocean acidification based on new report

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    • Seagrass and kelp may be quite beneficial for reducing the impacts of ocean acidification, especially in California’s bays
    • Restoring or preserving seagrass and kelp is a win-win measure that would also bring a number of other benefits including providing habitat for many marine species, including economically important fisheries like crab and moderating wave impacts, protecting coastlines from storms.
    • Hill showed that sediment inside seagrass meadows can contain up to two times as much organic carbon as habitats without vegetation; in summer months, the presence of seagrass can make water significantly less acidic, changing water chemistry up to 0.1 pH units.

    February 26, 2018 Read CA Seagrant article here

    Nielsen, K., Stachowicz, J., Carter, H., Boyer, K., Bracken, M., Chan, F., Chavez, F.,
    Hovel, K., Kent, M., Nickols, K., Ruesink, J., Tyburczy, J., and Wheeler, S. EMERGING UNDERSTANDING OF SEAGRASS AND KELP AS AN OCEAN ACIDIFICATION MANAGEMENT TOOL IN CALIFORNIA. Developed by a Working Group of the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team and California Ocean Science Trust 2018

    Seaweeds and seagrasses have potential to mitigate some effects of ocean acidification, according to a new report presented to the California state legislature earlier this month. The report was supported by the Ocean Protection Council. California Sea Grant Extension Specialist Joe Tyburczy, who is based at Humboldt State University, served on the working group that wrote the report.

    “The major take-home message in the report is that seagrass and kelp may be quite beneficial for reducing the impacts of ocean acidification, especially in California’s bays,” Tyburczy says. While many details remain to be studied, the researchers say that restoring or preserving seagrass and kelp is a win-win measure that would also bring a number of other benefits. For example, seagrass meadows are important habitat for many marine species, including economically important fisheries like crab. Kelp and seagrasses can also moderate wave impacts, protecting coastlines from storms.

    “There are many reasons we’d want to restore or preserve seagrass meadows. The potential of seagrasses to remove carbon from the water is just icing on the cake,” says University of California, Davis scientist Tessa Hill, who has conducted related research on the topic.

    …In her California Sea Grant-funded research in Tomales Bay, California, Hill showed that sediment inside seagrass meadows can contain up to two times as much organic carbon as habitats without vegetation. She also found that in summer months, the presence of seagrass can make water significantly less acidic, changing water chemistry up to 0.1 pH units.

    The results of the project were so promising that they led to a larger project to expand the research across the state, and also compare seagrass meadows that were restored rather than native.

    The idea of a nature-based solution with multiple benefits sounded good to policymakers who are working on strategies to address ocean acidification. The question will be when, where, and how to prioritize seagrass restoration and protection. That’s where current research aims to fill the gaps…..

  5. Public willing to pay to improve ecosystem water quality- more than other ecosystem services

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    March 27, 2018 University of Missouri-Columbia read full PhysOrg article here

    Researchers have found in a nationwide survey that members of the public are more willing to pay for improved water quality than other ecosystem services such as flood control or protecting wildlife habitats.

    ….”Our findings support the notion that ecosystem programs need to happen at the local level,” said Francisco Aguilar, associate professor of forestry in the School of Natural Resources, which is located in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “People in different areas of the country have different priorities, and that’s hard to coordinate at a national level. If someone lives in a flood plain, they are going to be a lot more willing to pay for flood controls. Still, people from around the nation consistently seem to be willing to pay for quality improvements.”…

    Francisco Xavier Aguilar et al. Water quality improvements elicit consistent willingness-to-pay for the enhancement of forested watershed ecosystem services, Ecosystem Services (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2018.02.012

  6. Advancing UN efforts on agriculture for climate change mitigation and adaptation– webinar recordings now available

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    • Agriculture is a special topic under the UNFCCC, cross-linking between adaptation and mitigation and covering all countries under the convention
    • In a recent webinar, participants discussed how the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture can help agricultural development address a triple threat: food security, climate resilience, and mitigation (read more here).

    March 5 2018 GFAR (Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation) Presentations & Recordings from the Global Webinar

    In light of the recent adopted decision by the Parties at the Bonn Climate Change Conference in November 2017 known as the Koronivia* joint work on agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) organized a global webinar to provide participants with a better understanding of the key opportunities and challenges involved in advancing Koronivia joint work on agriculture and an opportunity for dialogue on the topics identified in the Koronivia decision ahead of the Subsidiary Bodies for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and Implementation (SBI) meetings to take place from 30 April – 10 May 2018 in Bonn, Germany.

    Through discussions it was noted that, many countries are already strongly affected by the adverse effects of climate change, including but not limited to droughts, pests and diseases. This requires support to increase resilience and sufficient climate finance in agriculture to make informed investments. In this sense, agriculture is a special topic under the UNFCCC, cross-linking between adaptation and mitigation and covering all countries under the convention. The Koronivia joint work is a chance to align the efforts of all stakeholders in the agricultural community – and we can take full advantage of this!

    Read blog

    Keynote speakers included representatives from the European Union, New Zealand, UNFCCC and Uruguay.

    Moderator: Julia Wolf, Natural Resources Officer, FAO Presentation | Recording

    Herwig Ranner, European Commission in the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development Presentation | Recording

    Dirk Nemitz, Programme Officer for agriculture, forestry and other land-use at the UNFCCC Presentation | Recording

    Victoria Hatton,  Senior Policy Analyst, Ministry for Primary Industries, New ZealandPresentation | Recording

    Walter Oyhantcabal, Director of the Climate Change and Sustainability Unit in Uruguay’s Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Presentation | Recording

    Bruce Campbell, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Presentation | Recording

    Martial Bernoux, Coordinator of the Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture Programme, FAO Presentation | Recording

    As a follow up to the webinar, regional webinars are expected to be organized throughout the year. Please be on the lookout for these Koronivia regional dialogues!

    For more information on Koronivia joint work on agriculture, please visit: www.fao.org/climate-change/resources/learning/

    *Koronivia grass is a leafy, procumbent, creeping, stoloniferous perennial grass

  7. Nature-based solutions needed for better management of water, says UN report

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    • We need to increase our use of nature-based solutions – where we work more with nature – says a new report on global water management by the United Nations.
    • World Water Development Report 2018demonstrates how nature‐based solutions (NBS) use or mimic natural processes to enhance water availability (e.g., soil moisture retention, groundwater recharge), improve water quality (e.g., natural and constructed wetlands, riparian buffer strips), and reduce risks associated with water‐related disasters and climate change (e.g., floodplain restoration, green roofs). Read more / Download the report in English | Français | Español

    ….“We need new solutions in managing water resources,” says Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, “so as to meet emerging challenges to water security caused by population growth and climate change.”

    nature-based solutions - global water managementGreater use of nature-based solutions will help us toward a more holistic approach to managing global water resources. Image: CP/pixabay composite.

    The 2018 United Nations World Water Development Report featured recently at the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia, Brazil.

    Holistic approach to water management

    The report argues that nature-based solutions are one of the many essential tools for moving toward “a more holistic approach to water management.”

    Nature-based solutions support the idea that water is not an isolated element but an inseparable part of a cycle of evaporation, precipitation, and absorption through the soil.

    Grasslands, forests, and wetlands – and the extensive vegetation cover that they provide – have a profound effect on the water cycle and by focusing on them we can do much to improve the amount and quality of water that is available.

    The report says that we need to make more use of environmental engineering that focuses on “green infrastructure” rather than just “grey infrastructure” solutions provided by traditional civil engineering.

    This does not mean that we do not continue to seek civil engineering solutions in the form of irrigation canals, reservoirs, and water treatment plants, but look to increase nature-based solutions to complement them.

    Benefits of ‘green infrastructure’

    Green infrastructure has much to offer water-intensive applications such as agriculture. For example, it can help to reduce soil erosion, pollution, and the amount of water required by making irrigation systems more efficient.

    An example of this is the change that has occurred in recent decades in the Indian state of Rajasthan, which suffered one of its worst droughts ever in 1986.

    In the years that followed, collaboration between an NGO and local communities established ways of harvesting water that regenerated forests and soils.

    As a result, forest cover in the state increased by 30 percent, groundwater levels went up several meters, and productivity of croplands improved.

    “For too long,” says Azoulay, “the world has turned first to human-built, or ‘grey’, infrastructure to improve water management. In so doing, it has often brushed aside traditional and Indigenous knowledge that embraces greener approaches.”….

  8. Small-scale farmers in a 1.5°C future: The importance of local social dynamics as an enabling factor for implementation and scaling of climate-smart agriculture

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    • Small-scale farmers can contribute to a 1.5°C future while adapting to climate change.
    • By using adaptation as an entry point, climate-smart ag (CSA) mitigation co-benefits can help reduce GHG.
    • Social capital generated through social networks can promote CSA scaling.
    • Social networks enable interactions across scales that can support spreading of CSA.
    April 2018 Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
    Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) has the potential to help farmers implement both adaptation and mitigation practices. The mitigation aspect of CSA is often not considered by farmers due to a high discount rate and, as such, adaptation is usually the priority concern…
    …Approaches such as climate-smart agriculture (CSA) [8] are intended to help to reorient agricultural systems to support food security under conditions of climate change and increased climate variability. Successful CSA consists of simultaneously achieving three goals or pillars according to FAO [8]: (i) sustainably increasing agricultural productivity to support equitable increases in incomes, food security and development; (ii) adapting and building resilience to climate change from the farm to national levels; and (iii) reducing or removing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions where possible…

    …In agricultural research, scaling out is the objective to reach a wide number of farmers with improved practices [14], and scaling up occurs when institutional buy-in and policies are influenced at higher levels [15]. Though there are a wide array of challenges to scaling CSA, many of these can be addressed through technical, social, economic, and policy innovations [16]. Many of these are social processes and, though much of the work on adaptation has built on the ideas of capabilities associated with the “five capitals” (financial, natural, human, physical and social), we have perhaps lost sight of many of the complexities and nuances associated with social capital in particular [17]….

    ….In order to achieve a 1.5°C scenario, consideration of the characteristics of local networks should figure into the design of any community engagement effort [26••; 51 ;  52]. This is especially the case now that the call for “mainstreaming” synergistic adaptation-mitigation practices into development policy has become part of the standard refrain [24 ;  53]. With an understanding of how adaptation strategies synergize across scale as a function of the existing networks, a goal should be to leverage community strengths and design strategies that maximize mitigation as a direct co-benefit of the implementation of adaptation practices. This is even more important where “…motivation to pursue long-term, broad-based plans, and/or to respond to community priorities, may be constrained” [54••] (p.17). An examination of local networks thus has the potential to serve as something of a first pass for establishing both the relevance and transferability of different CSA practices at different scales, while simultaneously serving as basis for designing the corresponding institutional arrangements that will better facilitate the uptake of practices with mitigation co-benefits depending on local socio-ecological circumstances [49]…

    …We argue that achieving a 1.5°C scenario requires small-scale farmers’ contributions through the implementation of strategies that provide mitigation co-benefits and synergies linked to adaptation but that additional understanding of farmers network context is a critical first step. A 1.5°C future could consist of small-scale farmers increasing their resilience through low carbon adaptation to climate change, contributing to the global mitigation efforts. However, this will require CSA options to be implemented widely and rapidly, meaning uptake by most of the small-scale farmers as soon as possible. Explicit acknowledgement of how social capital and networks operate in relation to climate challenges thus has the potential to be a critical ingredient when designing and implementing CSA at scale.

    Social networks are likely a key to facilitate scaling up and out processes by enabling individuals and institutions to interact across scales, guiding their decision making processes [34••], and building social capital that spreads CSA strategies….

    Deissy Martinez-Baron, Guillermo Orjuela, Giampiero Renzoni, Ana María Loboguerrero Rodríguez, Steven D Prager.

    Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 31, April 2018, Pages 112–119, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2018.02.013
  9. Digging deep: Harnessing the power of soil microbes for more sustainable farming

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    • Farm of the future’ project marries microbiology and machine learning
    March 14, 2018 DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Read full ScienceDaily article here
    How will the farms of the future feed a projected 9.8 billion people by 2050? A ‘smart farm’ project marries microbiology and machine learning in an effort to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and enhance soil carbon uptake, thus improving the long-term viability of the land while increasing crop yields….
    …this project brings together molecular biology, biogeochemistry, environmental sensing technologies, and machine learning, will revolutionize agriculture and create sustainable farming practices that benefit both the environment and farms. If successful, they envision being able to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and enhance soil carbon uptake, thus improving the long-term viability of the land, while at the same time increasing crop yields.A central piece of the research is understanding the role of microbes in the health of the soil….”By understanding how microbes work and modifying the environments where they function, we can eventually engineer microbial communities to enhance soil productivity. What’s more, Berkeley Lab’s research is showing that healthy soils are more resilient to system shocks such as climate change, drought, and insects.”

    …The world’s population is forecast by the United Nations to grow to 9.8 billion by 2050; feeding that many people will require raising food production by more than 70 percent. Yet industrialized farming practices have depleted a majority of the country’s agricultural land of active carbon and a balanced microbial ecosystem. This is reflected in measurements of organic matter that average only 1 to 2 percent in most farmland, compared to historic levels of around 10 percent…

    …”There are millions of species of microbes per cubic centimeter of soil,” Brown said. “As you approach the plant root and its interior tissues, you go from millions to dozens. So plants do an exceptional job of farming their microbiomes. They release materials, including antimicrobial compounds, to selectively kill undesirable microbes, and they release food to incentivize beneficial microbes. It’s a highly symbiotic and enormously complex interaction, and we understand almost nothing about it.”

    …Hyperspectral sensors on the drones will be able to detect light reflectance from the plants and see hundreds of channels of spectra, from the visible to near infrared. “The human eye has only three channels — red, green, and blue,” said Wainwright. “You can see if a leaf looks yellow or green. But with hundreds of channels you can measure carbon and nitrogen content, and you can tell a lot about plant health, plant disease, or leaf chemistry, all of which affect crop yield.”

    In addition, surface geophysical techniques are used to map soil electrical properties in 3-D, which greatly controls soil microbial activities.

    Machine learning is the tool that will tie all the data together…

    …Currently farmers have no such information, even though services and products have sprung up providing various “big data” solutions. “All the private companies have a big incentive to lock their own data sets, so they can’t be used in conjunction with other data sets,” Wainwright said. “That’s where the public sector, like Berkeley Lab, can step in. We’re not incentivized by profit.”…

  10. Crowded cities search for nature-based solutions for residents’ well-being

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    • As urban migration increases, cities are increasingly searching for ways to provide more greenery.

    • A 11.4 million-euro project, Connecting Nature, which runs until 2022, is developing ‘nature-based solutions,’ such as street trees, parks, and green roofs and walls, across 11 European cities.

    ….Cities are increasingly looking for ways to provide more greenery, as migration to urban areas rises and a growing body of scientific evidence indicates that being close to nature is good for people.

    Vegetation also sucks up planet-warming carbon dioxide, and is key to efforts to combat climate change.

    Some 750 climate scientists and urban planners are gathered in Canada this week at a United Nations-hosted conference to discuss how to help cities reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and become more resilient to extreme weather and rising seas.

    Vertical Forests, Milan, Italy 2017  Luca Bruno APVertical forests in Milan, Italy 2017 Luca Bruno AP

    The proportion of the global population living in urban areas has risen from half in 2000 to 55 percent now, and is predicted to reach two-thirds by 2050….

    From Connecting Nature:

    Bringing Cities to Life, Bringing Life into Cities

    Connecting Nature is an innovation-oriented partnership of 32 institutions from 18 countries. It brings together urban local authorities and communities, Small and Medium Enterprises, voluntary organisations, and diverse academic partners in order to scale-up nature-based solutions for building resilient and sustainable cities. Connecting Nature is working with 11 European cities who are investing in the large-scale implementation of nature–based solutions. As an innovative action, part-funded by Horizon 2020, Connecting Nature is mapping nature-based solution exemplars and measuring measuring the efficacy and impact of these initiatives on climate change adaptation, health and well-being, social cohesion, and sustainable economic development. We are also devising new business models and novel mechanisms for financing nature-based solutions as well as identifying key performance indicators. This will foster the creation of commercial and social enterprises for scaling-up nature-based strategies, processes, and products.