Learn more about the remarkable work of the Northeast Carbon Alliance and their partners.
Book review by Thomas Almendinger:
The Ecology of Agricultural Landscapes by Stephen K. Hamilton, Julie E. Doll and G. Philip Robertson. 2015.
Evaluation of Organized Hunting as a Management Technique for Overabundant White-Tailed Deer in Suburban Landscapes
Demographics of Non-Hunted White-Tailed Deer Populations in Suburban Areas
Restoring Forests in Central New Jersey through Effective Deer Management
New field Research Trials
The Hudson Farm Valley Hub announces two new field research trials in partnership with Cornell University. The first is focused on managing disease in brassicas and the second on carbon sequestration.
Farmscape Ecology with Link to Film
Applied Farmscape Ecology explores the interface between farming and wild nature. This includes the documentation of on-farm biodiversity and its various roles for agricultural production. It also includes the development of techniques for managing on-farm habitats so as to support ecological services to the farm (e.g., pollination, pest control, carbon sequestration, soil health and erosion control) and the conservation of native biodiversity. This research is jointly coordinated by Farm Hub staff and the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program and involves a variety of collaborators.
Updated November 2021 - Storymap of The Stone Barns Center Conservation Action Plan (CAP)
Back to Grass: A report on the state of grassfed beef production (2017).
Jack Algiere, Director of Agriculture, presentation at Young Farmers and Cooks Conference (YFCC) on Agriculture and Land Use Agreements
Increasing soil health and climate resilience education for pasture-based livestock farmers
This project, Increasing Soil Health and Climate Resilience Education for Pasture-Based Livestock Farmers, informed and equipped regional farmers to adopt effective, but underutilized soil health measures. Glynwood worked in partnership with regional livestock farmers, specialists at Cornell Cooperative Extension, NRCS and researchers at UMass Amherst. Glynwood developed a demonstration of pasture improvement methods, the results of which informed educational opportunities offered to regional livestock farmers. These included: a Soil Health Field Day, presentations at regional conferences and online dissemination of our findings via video, blogs and articles. A second demonstration showcased the use of warm season annual forage. Additionally, data collected highlighted the cost effectiveness of planting warm season annual forage vs. buying in hay in dry seasons when perennial forage is not available.
SECURING FRESH, LOCAL FOOD FOR NEW YORK CITY AND THE HUDSON VALLEY - A Foodshed Conservation Plan for the Region
The Climate-Resilient Agriculture Initiative - Cultivating Climate Solutions in the Hudson Valley
Ground Control: Soil Health and Climate Resiliency
Plum Island Ecosystems LTER
The Plum Island Ecosystems LTER (PIE LTER) located in northeastern Massachusetts is an integrated research, education and outreach program with the goal of developing a predictive understanding of the long-term response of watershed and estuarine ecosystems to changes in climate, land use and sea level and to apply this knowledge to the wise management and development of policy to protect the natural resources of the coastal zone.
Malcolm Scully of WHOI has drawn attention to the crucial need for interdisciplinary research and the difficulty to secure funding for it. He has completed a pilot study of carbon dioxide dynamics in the Hudson River Estuary with funding raised through the Alliance.
Coastal blue carbon, the long-term removal of carbon from the atmosphere by burial of organic matter through photosynthesis in estuarine plants, could serve as a climate mitigation incentive to prioritize protection of estuarine habitats. New York State and national partners participated in the “Prioritizing Wetlands for Resilience and Carbon” project to map and model carbon sequestration potential for coastal waters, including the Hudson River. Controls on rates of storage, gaseous emissions and interactions with other elements (nitrogen) require study and understanding. Research is needed on the balance among inputs/outputs under rapidly changing environmental conditions to best inform potential new policies.
HRNERR collaborated in the fall 2020 with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Office of Climate Change, New York City Department of Parks Natural Resources Group, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Hudson River Foundation, and Scenic Hudson to develop and host a workshop about assessing New York coastal wetlands for sequestering blue carbon and creating a roadmap for next steps.
Sea Level Rise
Over the past century, sea level on the Hudson River has risen about a foot, and the rate is projected to accelerate. What does that mean for our land and communities?
Protecting the Pathways
Protecting the Pathways is an initiative by Scenic Hudson and partners to study and help preserve the Hudson River's tidal wetlands in the face of sea level rise (SLR). Here, you can learn about the Hudson's tidal wetlands, their fate under SLR, and what you can do to help.
Simulating the Effects of Sea Level Rise on the Resilience and Migration of Tidal Wetlands along the Hudson River
Sea Level Rise (SLR) caused by climate change is impacting coastal wetlands around the globe. Due to their distinctive biophysical characteristics and unique plant communities, freshwater tidal wetlands are expected to exhibit a different response to SLR as compared with the better studied salt marshes. In this study we employed the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM), which simulates regional- or local-scale changes in tidal wetland habitats in response to SLR, and adapted it for application in a freshwater-dominated tidal river system, the Hudson River Estuary. Using regionally-specific estimated ranges of SLR and accretion rates, we produced simulations for a spectrum of possible future wetland distributions and quantified the projected wetland resilience, migration or loss in the HRE through the end of the 21st century. Projections of total wetland extent and migration were more strongly determined by the rate of SLR than the rate of accretion. Surprisingly, an increase in net tidal wetland area was projected under all scenarios, with newly-formed tidal wetlands expected to comprise at least 33% of the HRE’s wetland area by year 2100. Model simulations with high rates of SLR and/or low rates of accretion resulted in broad shifts in wetland composition with widespread conversion of high marsh habitat to low marsh, tidal flat or permanent inundation. Wetland expansion and resilience were not equally distributed through the estuary, with just three of 48 primary wetland areas encompassing >50% of projected new wetland by the year 2100. Our results open an avenue for improving predictive models of the response of freshwater tidal wetlands to sea level rise, and broadly inform the planning of conservation measures of this critical resource in the Hudson River Estuary.
Increased Methane Emissions by an Introduced Phragmites australis Lineage under Global Change
North American wetlands have been invaded by an introduced lineage of the common reed, Phragmites australis. Native lineages occur in North America, but many populations have been extirpated by the introduced conspecific lineage. Little is known about how subtle changes in plant lineage may affect methane (CH4) emissions. Native and introduced Phragmites were grown under current and predicted future levels of atmospheric CO2 and nitrogen (N) pollution in order to understand how CH4 emissions may vary between conspecific lineages.
Carbon dioxide fluxes of temperate urban wetlands with different restoration history
Carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange of tidal brackish wetlands and how they may be affected by restoration methods are largely unknown. The New Jersey Meadowlands, a tidal brackish estuary system, have had a long history of pollution, hydrological alterations, multiple restoration and mitigation treatments since the early 1970s.
This investigation suggests that CO2 uptake and potential subsequent carbon sequestration may be strongly affected by the management and restoration history of the wetlands, and in our case these wetlands are often acting as a source of CO2, and not as a sink, as may have been expected.
Climate-driven risks to the climate mitigation potential of forests
Divergent forest sensitivity to repeated extreme droughts
Climate change-driven increases in drought frequency and severity could compromise forest ecosystems and the terrestrial carbon sink. While the impacts of single droughts on forests have been widely studied, understanding whether forests acclimate to or become more vulnerable to sequential droughts remains largely unknown and is crucial for predicting future forest health. We combine cross-biome datasets of tree growth, tree mortality and ecosystem water content to quantify the effects of multiple droughts at a range of scales from individual trees to the globe from 1900 to 2018. We find that subsequent droughts generally have a more deleterious impact than initial droughts, but this effect differs enormously by clade and ecosystem, with gymnosperms and conifer-dominated ecosystems more often exhibiting increased vulnerability to multiple droughts. The differential impacts of multiple droughts across clades and biomes indicate that drought frequency changes may have fundamentally different ecological and carbon-cycle consequences across ecosystems.
Scientific Communities Striving for a Common Cause: Innovations in Carbon Cycle Science
Where does the carbon released by burning fossil fuels go? Currently, ocean and land systems remove about half of the CO2 emitted by human activities; the remainder stays in the atmosphere. These removal processes are sensitive to feedbacks in the energy, carbon, and water cycles that will change in the future. Observing how much carbon is taken up on land through photosynthesis is complicated because carbon is simultaneously respired by plants, animals, and microbes. Global observations from satellites and air samples suggest that natural ecosystems take up about as much CO2 as they emit. To match the data, our land models generate imaginary Earths where carbon uptake and respiration are roughly balanced, but the absolute quantities of carbon being exchanged vary widely. Getting the magnitude of the flux is essential to make sure our models are capturing the right pattern for the right reasons. Combining two cutting-edge tools, carbonyl sulfide (OCS) and solar-induced fluorescence (SIF), will help develop an independent answer of how much carbon is being taken up by global ecosystems. Photosynthesis requires CO2, light, and water. OCS provides a spatially and temporally integrated picture of the “front door” of photosynthesis, proportional to CO2 uptake and water loss through plant stomata. SIF provides a high-resolution snapshot of the “side door,” scaling with the light captured by leaves. These two independent pieces of information help us understand plant water and carbon exchange. A coordinated effort to generate SIF and OCS data through satellite, airborne, and ground observations will improve our process-based models to predict how these cycles will change in the future.
Healthy Forests for Our Future: A Management Guide to Increase Carbon Storage in Northeast Forests
A management guide from The Nature Conservancy and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) published in 2021 for forest landowners and/ or managers that provides a variety of best management practices and options based on objectives and land type.
Management decisions affect how well your forest can handle droughts, recover from storms, and cope with insect outbreaks, events that are increasing in frequency and severity as the climate changes. This ability to "bounce back" is often called forest resilience. Your decisions also affect climate change by storing more or less carbon in your woods (carbon stocks) and by changing the rate at which carbon is absorbed by your trees(carbon sequestration). When forests are lost, they can no longer store or absorb carbon. The most effective thing you can do to impact forest carbon on the land you own or manage is to keep your forest as forest. This includes planning ahead for what will happen to your forest after you no longer own it.
Untapped Common Ground: The Care of Natural Forested Areas in American Cities - Practitioner Survey
Natural areas account for 84% of urban parkland. Despite representing the largest concentration of nature in cities, natural areas often go unnoticed, underused, under resourced and unprotected. Organizations across the United States have been pioneering approaches to enhance and conserve urban forested natural areas locally, but these efforts have never been summarized at a national scale. In 2018, the Natural Areas Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies completed the first ever survey of organizations that manage the nation’s urban forested natural areas.
NYC Forest Management Framework
A joint project of the Natural Areas Conservancy and NYC Parks, the Forest Management Framework for New York City is a strategic and comprehensive plan to bolster and protect New York City’s vital urban forests. It is the first citywide vision for this critical piece of infrastructure. The plan is intended to guide restoration, management, and community engagement for 7,300 acres of New York City’s forested parkland. The 25- year plan includes the process, costs, steps, recommendations, best practices, and goals for forest management in NYC. It marks the culmination of six years of research, data collection, and analysis by NAC scientists.
Climate Adaptation Tool and Planting Palette
This tool was developed as part of a larger project to create climate-adaptive planting palettes for urban forest restoration projects in the New York City Metropolitan Region.
Carbon Budget for NYC and Summary
Forests play an important role in mitigating the many negative effects of climate change. One of the ways trees help to mitigate impacts of climate change is by absorbing carbon dioxide and storing carbon in their wood, leaves, and soil. Forest assessments and carbon accounting are common approaches used to quantify the value of trees and their contribution to mitigating these negative effects across different landscapes. In cities, assessments of forests, and the ecological benefits that they can provide have not been rigorously quantified beyond the scale of the entire city, thus making it difficult to understand how different types of urban greenspace contribute to meeting city sustainability goals. The number of trees, their size, and growing conditions can play an important role in the benefits they provide, including how much carbon they store and sequester. Urban forested natural areas often have greater tree density compared to trees planted in designed cityscapes suggesting that natural area forests could be an important carbon sink for cities to understand. To our knowledge the amount of carbon stored and sequestered in urban forested natural areas has never been estimated. This report is the first comprehensive carbon budget created for an urban forested natural area using field-collected data.
The Time Value of Carbon Storage
Widespread concern about the risks of global climate change is increasingly focused on the urgent need for action (IPCC, 2018; IPCC, 2021),and natural climate solutions are a critical component of global strategies to achieve low temperature targets (e.g. Griscom et al. 2017, Roe et al. 2019).Yet to date, the full potential of natural systems to store carbon has not been leveraged because policy-makers have required long-term contracts to compensate for permanence concerns, and these long-term contracts substantially raise costs and limit deployment.
In this paper, we lay out the rationale that our time preference for early action leads to the conclusion that multiple tons of short-term storage of carbon in ecosystem stocks can be considered to have equal value – as measured by the social cost of carbon -- as 1 ton of carbon sequestered permanently. This equivalence can be used to quantify the value of short-term carbon storage, thereby removing one of the most significant barriers to participation in the carbon market and enabling the full climate mitigation potential of the land sector to be realized.
The Securing Northeast Forest Carbon Program is a cooperative effort among the State forestry offices in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to secure as much of the private forest carbon in the northeast region as possible in a 3-year period (2021-2024). The focus is on working forestland carbon. Each State Forester’s office has a forest carbon lead staffer and others will be trained as well in how to encourage private forest owners in the region to secure their forest carbon through carbon sales in the voluntary and compliance markets, through special management practices and through use of conservation easements.
The program has developed a guide to assist foresters
and landowners who want to update their forest management and stewardship plans with an addendum to cover forest carbon and climate resiliency, found here.
Learn more about the program and sign up for their e-newsletter and webinars here.