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Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature


Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan

Bob Moseley, Director of Conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Illinois, talks about the Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature, of which he is the primary author.

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What role does urban nature play in a warming climate? Should we preserve it for the future?

In the Chicago Wilderness region, where are existing 370,000 acres of natural open space are estimated to hold 53 million tons of carbon dioxide, scientists are taking urban nature seriously enough to establish a plan of action. The Climate Action Plan for Nature, which is the first climate plan of its kind to address the preservation of nature in an urban setting, was announced on June 25, 2010. Created by the Chicago Wilderness alliance, with leadership from The Nature Conservancy in Illinois, it outlines key strategies for mitigating the effects of climate change by preserving and strategically managing existing landscapes.

In addition to creating opportunities for recreation and discovery and providing habitat for plants and animals, urban nature sequesters carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. The plan will advance the protection of threatened landscapes such as the Conservancy-managed Indian Boundary Prairies, among the largest unplowed prairie remnants in Illinois.

In addition to warmer temperatures, climate change is projected to bring more intense storms to this region, new insect pests and pathogens, lower water levels in Lake Michigan, and a mismatch in seasonal patters like bird migration and the emergence of insects. According to Bob Moseley, Director of Conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Illinois and lead author of The Climate Action Plan for Nature, "The Climate Action Plan for Nature can help reduce those effects by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and by providing enduring habitat for native animal and plant species."

The Plan outlines three main strategies to mitigate these and other future impacts of climate change:
1. To advance climate research and recognition of the importance of land conservation in fighting climate change;
2. To promote conservation practices that help local nature adapt to anticipated climate change impacts; and
3. To marshal the collective expertise of Chicago Wilderness members to create local solutions that have global impact.

Read a full summary of the plan.

To learn more about what The Nature Conservancy in Illinois is doing about these threats, read a Q&A with Bob Moseley.

The plan has the potential to be repurposed in cities around the globe, and provides guidance for similar plans that may be created.

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