Looking up at trees with autumn colors.
Autumn Colors Trees show their autumn colors in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. © Jason Whalen / Big Foot Media

Stories in Michigan

Michigan Climate Action

A changing climate is one of the greatest environmental and economic challenges facing humanity today.

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We are already seeing the consequences of increasing temperatures, from more intense storms to widespread habitat loss in Michigan. But there is hope—and it calls for us to work with nature to prepare our state for a changing climate. 

In Michigan, TNC is working with many partners to leverage the power of nature and change the course of our shared future.

We live in an important time—climate action is urgently needed. However, it is also an opportunity for innovation. Conserving healthy lands and waters also supports their ability to soak up carbon from the atmosphere—the greenhouse gases that are contributing to the world's climate shift.

By making nature a part of the solution, we can also achieve a multitude of benefits for people and nature: connecting communities with clean and affordable energy, protecting vital forests and rivers, informing equitable access to natural resources, supporting healthy, livable cities and more.

Ancient bedrock along the shoreline at Mary MacDonald Preserve at Horseshoe Harbor.
Mary MacDonald Preserve Ancient bedrock along the shoreline at Mary MacDonald Preserve at Horseshoe Harbor. © Jason Whalen

Michigan's Path to Climate Action

Carbon neutrality, or “net-zero” carbon emissions, is a global objective. Nature can reduce more than one-third of the emissions needed to hit this goal if countries invest in carbon-storing forests, grasslands, wetlands and farmlands.

By incorporating nature into our solutions here in the Great Lakes, we can make a meaningful and lasting contribution to climate balance.

State of Change

In the coming years, Michigan's changing climate is expected to lead to:

  • Increased precipitation and flood risk
  • More severe storms
  • More extremely hot days (above 95°F)
  • Decline of cold-adapted tree species like paper birch and balsam fir
  • Greater risk of algal blooms in lakes and rivers
  • Less habitat for cold-water fish like lake trout
  • Reduced yields of certain crops, such as corn
  • Increased risk to human health

Our Strategies

  • Demonstration

    TNC’s work in sustainable forest management, coastal restoration, green stormwater infrastructure, soil health and water quality are just some of the ways we help people and nature prepare to meet the impacts of a changing climate. For example, we demonstrate how forests can be managed to promote resilience and biodiversity while also absorbing more carbon, and we encourage Michigan landowners to commit to those practices as well.

  • Leadership

    TNC leads through the real-world expertise we have gained over decades of on-the-ground conservation in Michigan. From providing input on the state’s clean energy reforms in 2016, to participating in leadership groups like the Great Lakes Coastal Assembly, TNC works collaboratively to advance science-based strategies that help Great Lakes communities thrive. 

  • Policy

    TNC draws on our extensive experience in natural climate solutions and public-private collaboration to provide policy leaders with science-based knowledge and impactful solutions. Durable climate policy at the state and federal levels will require bipartisan support—we leverage our strengths as a nonpartisan organization and trusted scientific authority to drive consensus on climate issues, and we engage the public to build support for climate action from the grassroots up.

  • Engagement

    Private-sector innovation is essential to meet the climate challenge. TNC works with leading companies and business organizations in Michigan and beyond—especially in the energy, industrial, agriculture and forestry sectors—to promote climate dialogue and best practices. We hope to build visible industry support for a price on carbon and other actions to address the impacts of a changing climate. 

Key Projects in Michigan

The Michigan Chapter is collaborating with partners on strategies that will help us adapt to the changing climate.

Building Coastal Resilience

Coastal wetlands are important to improving climate resilience in the Great Lakes. They provide communities and infrastructure with protection from storms and prevent flooding, while also helping to keep water clean and providing food and shelter to migratory birds. On the shores of Lake Erie in the North Maumee Bay, TNC is advancing plans to restore an eroded marsh using innovative techniques such as floating islands of vegetation to protect the shoreline and provide open water habitat.

Increasing Climate Awareness

TNC is connecting Michiganders with information on climate science and climate mitigation strategies, to increase awareness of climate solutions and demonstrate the benefits of these practices.   

Capturing Carbon in the Upper Peninsula

All of TNC’s forest reserves in Michigan are managed to improve forest health and absorb additional carbon above what the forest would store without TNC’s sustainable forest management practices. We are expanding those practices to privately owned lands, which make up 63% of Michigan’s timberland, by recruiting participants into TNC’s American Forest Carbon Initiative, a partnership with the American Forest Foundation.

Sunset over a blue-watered marsh.
Erie Marsh Preserve TNC's Erie Marsh Preserve provides important coastal protection and habitat near North Maumee Bay. © Jason Whalen

Michigan Healthy Climate Plan

In 2020, the Governor of Michigan announced the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan, established the Climate Solutions Council and set the statewide carbon neutrality goal for 2050. TNC was invited to participate in two council workgroups, giving us the opportunity to provide input on natural climate solutions policy and practices that the council can recommend to the governor to mitigate carbon emissions. Our connections with many state agencies mean that we can also directly engage with the State of Michigan to encourage climate efforts as the state works to meet U.S. Climate Alliance goals. 

How We’re Tackling Climate Change

  • Seedlings grow at a large, state-owned, tree nursery near the city of Guarapuava, Parana state, Brazil.

    Nature Based Solutions

    We believe that investing in sustainable soil health practices can increase agricultural yields, generate more profit for farmers and reduce negative environmental impacts. Learn about soil solutions.

  • Laura Crane and a Fuller Star employee walking through the array of solar panels at the Fuller Star plant in Lancaster, California.

    Promoting Clean Energy

    We're working with local governments and business to achieve the 2025 goal of 25% renewable energy. TNC's created Site Wind Right, which reveals those areas in the Central U.S. where wind energy development would not disrupt important wildlife. Learn more about Site Wind Right.

  • Bridge

    Corporate Engagement

    We're utilizing lessons learned through the CEO Climate Dialogue and are developing relationships with organizations across sectors to discuss their climate actions, how they are implementing sustainability plans and how to leverage federal action. Learn more about the CEO Climate Dialogue.

  • The Nature Conservancy's deforestation initiatives in East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

    Working with Governments

    We work with government leaders around the world to set aggressive goals for climate solutions that create jobs, protect people and cut pollution. Learn how we impact policy.

A domed building shines with reflected sunset light.
Unites States Capital Building The United States Capital Building in Washington D.C. © Devan King / TNC

Global Connection

The Paris Agreement sends a clear signal that the world is moving toward a safer, healthier and more prosperous low-carbon future. To make that future a reality, we must work together to achieve a global emissions reduction of 30 gigatons annually by 2030. 

In April 2021, the U.S. committed to reducing carbon emissions by 50% of 2005 levels by 2030—a significant increase over prior commitments. As the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the U.S. must continue to show leadership in driving climate innovation to minimize future damage to the natural world and safeguard those who rely upon it...

The Paris Agreement sends a clear signal that the world is moving toward a safer, healthier and more prosperous low-carbon future. To make that future a reality, we must work together to achieve a global emissions reduction of 30 gigatons annually by 2030. 

In April 2021, the U.S. committed to reducing carbon emissions by 50% of 2005 levels by 2030—a significant increase over prior commitments. As the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the U.S. must continue to show leadership in driving climate innovation to minimize future damage to the natural world and safeguard those who rely upon it. 

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