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2017 Open Space Conference - Ellie Cohen - Accelerating Nature-based Solutions to Secure a Healthy Future


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Ellie Cohen, Executive Director, Point Blue Conservation Science, spoke at the 2017 Open Space Conference, Eyes on the Horizon, Boots on the Trail on May 18, 2017 at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA. More info on the Bay Area Open Space Council's website:

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2017 Open Space Conference - Ellie Cohen - Accelerating Nature-based Solutions to Secure a Healthy Future

  1. 1. Bay Area Open Space Council Ellie Cohen and Point Blue Staff May 18, 2017 Accelerating Nature-based Solutions to Secure a Healthy Future
  2. 2. Photo: SE Greenland July 2016 Point Blue/ E.Cohen
  3. 3. January 5, 2017 Global temperatures in February 2016 already touched the 1.5°C limit
  4. 4. Nutrients NO Nutrients Blob overshadowed El Nino; driving drought >90% of warming in ocean; Heat 200m deep Takamitsu Ito et al Geophysical Research Letters 2017; Long et al Biogeochemical Cycles Feb 2016 Jacox et al . Geophysical Research Letters, July 2016 IUCN- Explaining Ocean Warming Sept 2016 Triple Threat: Warming, acidification & oxygen loss
  5. 5. Visualization of a very wavy Northern Hemisphere jet stream (NASA) Mann et al Scientific Reports 7 #45242 March 2017) Slow-down of jet stream triggered recent extremes-- floods, heat waves
  6. 6. Moftakhari e al Cumulative hazard: The case of nuisance flooding. Earth’s Future, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/2016EF000494 Extreme Events Photo: Hwy 37 west of Lakeville Hwy Jan 2017 Christopher Chung/The Press Democrat
  7. 7. Human Health Impacts
  8. 8. Wildlife Impacts Gretta T. Pecl et al Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being Science 31 Mar 2017:Vol. 355, Issue 6332, eaai9214 DOI: 10.1126/science.aai9214
  9. 9. • On track for 5 degrees C warming this century-- Impending tipping point for the future of life on our planet Exceeding 4 of 9 ‘planetary boundaries’ • Steffen et al, SCIENCE, Jan 2015, Planetary Boundaries • Natl Acad. of Sci., Abrupt Climate Change Dec 2013 • Barnosky et al, NATURE June 2012 Image Cheng (Lily) Li. • Climate change • Species extinction • Habitat loss (land-use changes) • Fertilizers (altered biogeochemical cycles)
  10. 10. We are totally reliant on nature Gretta T. Pecl et al Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being Science 31 Mar 2017:Vol. 355, Issue 6332, eaai9214 DOI: 10.1126/science.aai9214; •Climate •Flood •Disease •Water quality •Recreational •Educational •Spiritual •Freshwater, clean air •Food, fisheries •Wood, fiber, fuel Est value= 2x global GNP or $72 trillion in 2012 Ecosystem Services or Nature’s Benefits
  11. 11. Global Carbon Emissions Flat for 3 Years in a Row
  12. 12. New Policies from Paris to California
  13. 13. • $500m over 20 years for Bay protection & restoration • Managed by SF Bay Restoration Authority
  14. 14. Extension of CA Climate Law SB32 (Pavley)– 40% reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels by 2030 • Now at ~440 MMT/yr • With current policies ~310 MMT/yr • By 2030 260 MMT/yr See p. 37. expected-as-state-struggles-to-reach-tough-new-climate-standards/
  15. 15. Climate change tool box… Renewable Clean Energy Building Energy Efficiency Mass Transit Vehicle Miles Traveled Tara G. Martin, James E. M. Watson. Intact ecosystems provide best defence against climate change. Nature Climate Change, 2016; 6 (2): 122 DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2918 …must include Nature-based Solutions (NbS) Water Use Efficiency
  16. 16. Prioritize actions for multiple benefits & to accelerate ecosystem services/NbS LIFE on EARTH Biosphere C A R B O N HUMAN COMMUNITIES Duffy et al PNAS May 2016 Atwood, et al. Predators - blue carbon ecosystems. Nature Climate Change, 2015 Ballard, et al. Biological Conservation 2012
  17. 17. Apply the 10% Rule Every Day T = Test & E = Experiment N = Now
  18. 18. UC Davis, USFS Intl Program Ellie Cohen and Point Blue Staff May 15, 2017 Engage local communities & collaborate across sectors
  19. 19. Accelerate NbS: Manage rangelands for soil health, carbon, water, biodiversity & bottom lines Compost application Prescribed conservation grazing
  20. 20. Water retention in soil Shasta Dam – 4 million acre ft Photo: US Bureau of Reclamation WRONG Prescribed conservation grazing on 40m acres For every 10-12.5 acres, we can store another acre foot of water by increasing soil organic matter by 1%
  21. 21. Carbon sequestered in soil Offset ~10% of today’s CA emissions (440 MMT CO2 or all of CA’s commercial and residential GHG emissions) Conservation management on 40m grazed rangeland acres Prescribed grazing can increase CO2e ~.5-1 MT CO2e per acre Compost amendment ~.5 MT per acre or 18 Tons over 30 years
  22. 22. P.Huber Protect & steward remaining rangelands …. Paustian et al Climate-smart Soils, Nature, 2016
  24. 24. Tool: Climate-Smart Easements Incorporate future climate to: • Prioritize acquisitions • Secure affirmative rights to restore degraded resources for resilience to future change • Test innovative approaches Feather River Land Trust: projections of climatic water deficit- runoff & groundwater recharge- to prioritize potential easement acquisitions; blue watersheds prioritized to secure greatest water resources Yellow= more CWD Blue= less CWD by 2070
  25. 25. DEVELOP METRICS to SCALE UP Rangeland Monitoring Network Ecologicalfunction Soil Dynamic Properties Water Infiltration Bulk Density Organic Soil Carbon Vegetation Species composition Cover Birds Abundance Diversity science/working-lands/rangeland-monitoring-network/ Handbook of Methods Online Data Entry Tools Soil
  26. 26. Restore Riparian Habitat Accelerate NbS • Filters out pollutants • Recharges groundwater • Captures carbon • Supports birds, fish, other wildlife • Protects soil • Increases property values, recreation Lewis et al. 2015, Matzek et al. 2015, Seavy et al. 2009
  27. 27. Tool: Climate-Smart Restoration Palette Planting more species that: • Withstand extremes • Provide food year-round for disrupted phenologies Seavy et al., Why climate change makes riparian restoration more important than ever. 2009. Ecological Restoration Ecol. Rest. v27 Climate-smart restoration toolkit: science/habitat-restoration/climate-smart-restorationtoolkit/
  28. 28. Tool: Beaver Dam Analogues The Nature Conservancy UC Davis US Forest Service Point Blue Conservation Science Store carbon (30,000 acres = 2 m tons CO2e), recharge aquifers, sustain wildlife, other benefits Norton et al. 2011 Point Blue – unpublished TNC Photo: Montana
  29. 29. Restore tidal wetlands & coastal habitat • • marshes-and-climate-change/ Callaway, 2015 • Flood/Sea Level Rise protection • Improve water quality • Sequester Carbon • Provide fish and wildlife habitat Accelerate NbS with natural infrastructure for multiple benefits
  30. 30. Innovate tidal marsh restoration Accelerate NbS: Test mound design Sonoma Baylands, San Pablo Bay
  31. 31. Ecological Engineering: Horizontal Levees --- accelerate NbS Cheong et al Coastal Adaptation with Ecological Engineering Nature Climate Change Aug 2013 The Horizontal Levees Feb 2013 Tidal marshes combined with earthen levees can reduce costs by almost 50%
  32. 32. Accelerate NbS: Ocean Beach Master Plan Managed Retreat
  33. 33. Restore seagrass- sequester C, reduce acidification impacts, increase habitat, slow wave action Hejnowicz et al Frontiers in Marine Science 2015 Travathan-Tackett et al Ecology 2015 First National Report on Living Shorelines Institutional Barriers Released 2015 San Francisco Bay Living Shorelines Project Macreadie et al. “Can we manage coastal ecosystems to sequester more blue carbon?” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 2017.
  34. 34. Invest in urban green infrastructure e.g., rain gardens, permeable streets, curb cuts/bio-swales, green alleys Sunset Blvd Rain Gardens Holloway Avenue permeable pavements and parking areas Chinatown Living Alley
  35. 35. Site renewables in eco-friendly ways
  36. 36. No more ‘business as usual’ - Stop greenhouse gas pollution, - Transition to clean, efficient and equitable energy and water-use economy, and, - Make nature-based, multi- benefit approaches an equal priority.
  37. 37. “We have to wake up to the fierce urgency of the now” Jim Yong Kim on Climate Change President, The World Bank
  38. 38. What do we need to do? • Reduce our footprint- zero waste, carbon neutral • Not just protect but actively manage to accelerate NbS • Prioritize actions for multiple benefits to nature and people in watershed/ecosystem context • Engage local communities & collaborate across sectors • Invest in demonstration projects and scale up with standardized metrics and regular monitoring • Practice the TEN% Rule: Test and Experiment Now!
  39. 39. Eyes on the Horizon; Boots on the Trail! Be bold, take risks, innovate and act now to accelerate nature’s benefits for wildlife & people
  40. 40. Major Bi-Partisan Investments in Conservation Pay Off! Water flowing, carbon sequestered, wildlife thriving and communities healthy despite extensive drought May, 2037
  41. 41. Bay Area Open Space Council Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom for Climate Leadership November 2047
  42. 42. blog/sciencenews