Today, the Chicago Wilderness alliance released its Climate Action Plan for Nature, the first to address issues of biodiversity conservation and climate change in the greater Chicago region.
The plan was developed with the leadership of The Nature Conservancy in Illinois and a number of partners within the alliance. It identifies actions related to mitigation, adaptation and increased public awareness as key strategies in fighting climate change, and addresses the significant role of, and threats to, natural area conservation in the face of thisphenomenon.
In addition to offering benefits for outdoor recreation and discovery, healthy natural areas sequester carbon that would have been released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the most common of the greenhouse gases that cause global climatechange.
"The Chicago region's natural areas are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This plan outlines strategies to reduce those impacts through a new combination of techniques," says Bob Moseley, Director of Conservation for the Conservancy in Illinois and primary author of the plan. "Ensuring the health of our local ecosystems is critical to reducing and slowing the impacts of climate change on both people and nature."
In addition to warmer temperatures, climate change is projected to bring Illinois increased intense storm events; new insect pests and pathogens; lower water levels in Lake Michigan; and a mismatch in seasonal patterns like migration and the emergence of insects. Also, the demand for natural resources will increase as the population grows in this already densely populatedarea.
To mitigate these and other future impacts of climate change, the plan's three main strategies areto:
"The Climate Action Plan for Nature uses a regional approach that integrates people and nature," says Melinda Pruett-Jones, Executive Director of Chicago Wilderness. "It enables us to think about how we care for nature in the face of climate change which, in turn, will enable nature to continue to care for us."
The plan complements other plans developed for the region that focus on the relationship of human activities and climate change. It was released in conjunction with the Field Museum's opening of its new exhibit, Climate Change, which includes a Climate Action room highlighting local efforts to combat climate change. Visit the Climate Action Plan for Nature[1.27MBPDF] for more information.
Chicago Wilderness is a regional alliance that connects people and nature. More than 250 public, private and corporate organizations work together to restore local nature and improve the quality of life for all who live here, by protecting the lands and waters on which we all depend. The four key initiatives of Chicago Wilderness—to restore the health of local nature, promote green infrastructure, combat climate change, and leave no child inside—reflect our commitment to using science and emerging knowledge, as well as a collaborative approach to conservation, to benefit all the region’s residents. For more information, visit The Chicago Wilderness.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.