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Agricultural Stewardship AssociationAgricultural Stewardship Association

Land Conservation

Combating Climate Change

Climate change has, and will continue to have, dramatic effects on all New Yorkers – including farmers and citizens concerned about their food and where it comes from. In the future, farming and food production could be significantly impacted by severe weather, including warmer winters, hotter summers with serious droughts; or intense storms with heavy rainfall. At the same time, sea-level rise along our coasts could encroach upon millions of people living along the state’s heavily-populated coastline, displacing residents and pushing new real estate development onto farmland.

ASA is dedicated to helping mitigate climate change.

Here is how:

1. We are helping farm families permanently protect the most valuable and resilient land for farming and growing food.

2. We are educating our community about the importance of keeping land in farming and the connection with increasing resilience to a changing climate.

3. We are partnering with other organizations to help farmers adopt soil health practices and generate renewable energy in ways that are compatible with agriculture and keep productive land in farming.

How land conservation reduces climate change

The rapid climate change we are experiencing today is caused by greenhouse gases released by human activity. In the atmosphere, these gases trap heat from the sun, essentially over-insulating the Earth. But farmland, forests and other undeveloped lands can absorb greenhouse gases, keeping them out of the atmosphere.

Forests, farmland and other natural habitats absorb approximately 15% of the U.S.’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge benefit — but one that we stand to lose if we keep converting open land for development.

In fact, land conservation offers a double benefit for the climate. It not only helps absorb greenhouse gases; it also prevents significant greenhouse gas emissions that would result from development — including deforestation, construction and the additional driving required by poorly planned growth.

Because of these major benefits, ASA advocates for climate change policies that will promote and fund land conservation.

Our partners at American Farmland Trust recently published the report, #GreenerFields. You can ready more about how NY can combat climate change by keeping land in farming at www.farmland.org/greenerfields.

A new conservation priority: climate adaptation

Climate change is happening and it’s accelerating. Although we can still prevent the most severe impacts, we can’t stop climate change. Even if we eliminated all climate-changing emissions tomorrow, the greenhouse gases already in our atmosphere would continue to change the climate. Since we can’t stop climate change, we need to prepare for it. This means rethinking how we approach land conservation.

For example, in 50 years, a property that is a marsh today might be underwater. To protect this habitat, a land trust might prioritize properties that are just upland, so the marsh can move inland as sea levels rise. Conserving land for the marsh could help both human and wild communities adapt to climate change. For example, it could buffer a nearby neighborhood from heavy storms, reducing loss of life and property. It could also replace lost habitat for plants and animals or form part of a corridor so they can migrate to new habitat.

In an era of rapid climate change, strategic conservation planning is complex — but more important than ever. Fortunately, conservation organizations have developed sophisticated frameworks that land trusts can use to assess vulnerability, identify priorities for resilience, and adapt to change.

Are you a farmer who wants to combat climate change?

  1. Investigate options for permanently protecting your farmland.
  2. Adopt climate smart farming practices, such as cover crops and reduced tillage.
  3. Generate renewable energy in ways compatible with farming and keep productive farmland in agriculture.

Resources for Farmers & Landowners:

Understanding Ag - Provides farmers and ranchers with the guidance and tools to achieve your regenerative agricultural goals, success and profitability.

Soil Health Institute - The Soil Health Institute is a non-profit whose mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. The Institute works with its many stakeholders to identify gaps in research and adoption; develop strategies, networks and funding to address those gaps; and ensure beneficial impact of those investments to agriculture, the environment and society.

USDA Soil Health

NYSERDA - Objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and support to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. A public benefit corporation, NYSERDA has been advancing energy solutions and working to protect the environment since 1975.

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets - Guidelines for Solar Energy Projects

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) - SARE offers farmer-driven, grassroots grants and education programs that put the principles of sustainable agriculture into practice on farms and ranches in every state and island protectorate. Reach out to Janet Britt to learn more about ASA's work with SARE.

UMass SMART Program - Solar PV and Agriculture

Solar Grazing - A Guide to Farming Friendly Solar

Can farmland fix solar power's real estate problem?

Yale Climate Connections -  Yale Climate Connections is a nonpartisan, multimedia service providing daily broadcast radio programming and original web-based reporting, commentary, and analysis on the issue of climate change, one of the greatest challenges and stories confronting modern society.