Interview with Eric Walberg: How to Make Land Climate Smart

Eric Walberg is the senior program leader of Manomet’s climate change program. He recently completed the Climate Change Adaptation Project, which featured climate change adaptation plans for eight landowner and landscape-scale sites in Maine and Massachusetts.

 

The plans were developed over the course of three years with funding from the Kresge Foundation and focused on approaches to climate change adaptation that maximize ecosystem resilience. Building on this research, Walberg is now leading the Climate Smart Land Network (CSLN), a nationwide program to assist landowners in managing their lands for climate resilience and cost savings.

 

In December and January, Walberg held a series of workshops with the five timber companies and forestry groups participating in the CSLN pilot.

 

On February 26, Walberg will give a presentation at Manomet headquarters to explain how to make rural land and forests more resilient to climate change impacts and how the CSLN pilot organizations look at climate science.

 

The event is free and open to the public. Click here to register.

 

Why did Manomet launch the Climate Smart Land Network?

 

In a global sense, we still have not been able to make much progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As foresters and farmers experience continued changes to their land as a result of climate change (including those caused by storms, droughts, floods and insect outbreaks) adaptation planning becomes increasingly important. Through the CSLN, we are taking what we learned from the Climate Change Adaptation Project and expanding it to help landowners prepare for climate change at a national scale.

 

How does it work?

 

Landowners and managers of working forests, agriculture, and conservation lands become registered by successfully completing a climate change “checklist.” Manomet staff provides information and advice to help member landowners better manage their lands for climate change impacts. We are first focusing on a pilot for the forestry sector and will later expand to include agricultural and conservation lands.

 

Who is participating in the pilot?

 

Five timber companies and forestry groups are participating in the pilot: Lyme Timber Company, Hull Forest Products, New England Forestry Foundation, Baskahegan Company and the Small Woodlot Owners Association of Maine.

 

What was discussed at the recent meetings with the pilot organizations?

 

Each of these meetings included a “Climate Science 101” presentation, a discussion of what the ramifications of climate change are for the forestry sector and a critique of the checklist tool we have developed for Network members. The pilot participants offered suggestions for improving the program’s structure and the utility and effectiveness of both our presentation and the checklist.  

 

What feedback have the pilot organizations provided?

 

We received a lot of helpful feedback at these meetings. The inclusion of an information exchange function was of interest to all of the pilot participants. The goal is a system where members of the Network would be able to share information with one another about what impacts they are experiencing on their land and which management practices they are implementing. Four of the five pilot participants expressed interest in taking part in a scenario planning exercise. We are now using the feedback from the pilot participants to refine the project materials and will be offering the opportunity to participate in a scenario planning process over the next few months.

 

What is the future of the CSLN?

 

Once we have completed the pilot phase of the project, we will be ready to expand membership in the Network. That growth process will include continuing to build up regionally-specific climate data and projections and getting the information exchange function up and running. Our long-term goal is to enroll 30 million acres of forestland, farmland, and conservation land in the Network over the next four years, and the program will grow from there.

 

Click here for more information about Walberg's February 26 presentation and to register to attend.