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November 10, 2011

Wildlife, Natural Systems and a Sustainable DC

Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 10:32:06 AM EST

by Kara E. Reeve, Manager – Community Based Climate Adaptation, National Wildlife Federation

Photo by USFWS/Terry Cacek

How do we sustain wildlife and natural systems in the face of climate change? That question was considered by over 20 local leaders, climate and sustainability experts, and students from the DC metropolitan area who came together in late October at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

The recommendations from the group will be submitted to the DC Office of Planning and the DC Department of the Environment as part of the process to develop a city-wide sustainability plan.

In particular, participants focused on the ways that natural systems approaches can be used to provide benefits for both people and wildlife.

USDA NRCS Photo

Many people at the meeting indicated that education and outreach to residents is critical, and one suggestion included the development of programs to help the public understand the ways in which protecting and enhancing the city’s green infrastructure can not only support habitats, but can also reduce private property loss from flooding.  Active education was emphasized, including outreach and education to residents about street tree health and maintenance to reduce tree mortality.

Some other Ideas included mapping the location of habitat corridors and open existing spaces, identifying the ability of different habitats to attract certain birds, butterflies, etc. and quantification of the ecological values of trees and plants.

Photo by Carine Thomas

The District of Columbia’s Wildlife Action Plan will be updated in 2015, so it presents an opportunity to incorporate climate change vulnerability data into the plan to make it a “climate-smart” approach.

Meeting participants acknowledged that although much work remains, the meeting represents an important first step to make DC a “climate smart city” that supports people and wildlife.

Please contact Kara Reeve with any questions: reevek@nwf.org

The event was co-sponsored by NWF and the DC Environmental Network (DCEN).

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