Climate-Smart Communities Program
Climate change is intensifying existing stresses on wildlife and their habitats and amplifying natural hazards that threaten people and property. The Climate-Smart Communities program helps cities and towns use nature-based approaches to prepare themselves for the impacts of climate change in ways that support people, wildlife, and habitats.
With funding from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, administered by NFWF, NWF and Citizens Campaign for the Environment are working together through a collaborative planning process to help LIS communities identify and overcome barriers to the adoption of green infrastructure to reduce stormwater pollution. The outcome of this project will be a Green Infrastructure Action Agenda that establishes a plan for overcoming barriers, such as policy or technical challenges, to the broad integration of GI in the complex. The Action Agenda may include suggested modifications to codes, ordinances, and land use policies to encourage GI techniques that reduce impacts of current and future growth on water quality, and will also recommend a set of municipally-owned sites that are best-suited to serve as GI demonstration projects.
In King County, Washington, NWF helped prepare a tool to help landowners understand the benefits healthy trees can have for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Forestry Climate Preparedness and Response (CPR) tool quantifies and explains complex forest characteristics (i.e. total carbon load at a particular site) using an embedded Geographic Information System (GIS). It demonstrates how trees help landowners both reduce carbon pollution and prepare for the effects of climate change by reducing stormwater runoff and erosion and providing shade during hot summer months. The tool is being used by land managers across King County to make climate smart decisions when dealing with their forests. NWF recently partnered with the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition to present a webinar on "climate-induced stormwater flooding, reducing thermal pollution in local waterways, and minimizing heat island effects," through use of the Forestry CPR tool.
National Wildlife Federation has been working in our nation’s capital to promote wildlife-friendly approaches to urban sustainability. NWF has been an active participant in Sustainable DC, an ongoing process to develop a sustainability plan for the District of Columbia. NWF has provided technical expertise to both the Climate Change and Nature working groups. In particular, NWF has been leading the effort to ensure that climate change adaptation is addressed in the plan, in addition to mitigation, and that nature-based solutions are included. NWF is also co-authoring a section on climate change adaptation to be included in the forthcoming Sustainable DC Plan and the District’s Climate Action Plan.
NWF has partnered with the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) to host a community dialogue on wildlife, natural systems, and a sustainable DC. Twenty local leaders, climate and sustainability experts, and students from the DC metropolitan area came together at the National Wildlife Federation office to consider strategies to be included in the Sustainable DC plan.
Through the Climate-Smart Restoration Partnership Project for the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay (a partnership of NWF, NOAA and the Kresge Foundation), NWF made significant progress helping the coastal restoration community better understand and incorporate climate change adaptation into their work around the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay. To catalyze climate adaptation activities in the communities where these projects are located, NWF reached out to local governments, non-profits, and residents in Ohio and Michigan, and then developed a set of resources to help communities understand how restoring and protecting natural systems is not only beneficial for fish and wildlife, but can also help them be better prepared for the impacts of climate change.
NWF also developed a set of resources to provide communities with an overview of the kinds of nature-based approaches that can be used to respond to and prepare for the impacts of climate change. The new NWF Green Works for Climate Resilience: A Community Guide to Climate Planning provides descriptions and examples of the ways communities are already working to implement them. Urban forestry is just one example of a nature-based approach used to alleviate the impacts of climate change in the Great Lakes region like rising air temperature, increased precipitation, and increased nutrient run-off associated with increasing spring storm events.
Other NWF Climate-Smart Resources for Cities and Towns
- Corridors: NWF's Northeast Regional Center is working with the Vermont Natural Resources Council and state agencies to provide safe road crossings for wildlifevia their Critical Paths project.
- Trees: Trees for Wildlife is a program for children ages 6 to 18, involving science-based learning, physical planting and ongoing stewardship activities.
- Habitats: NWF's Certified Wildlife Habitat program helps you transform your backyard, school, business or community into safe and healthy haven for local wildlife.
- On The Ground: Learn more about climate adaptation activities in NWF's Great Lakes, Northeast, and Pacific regional offices.
More About Climate Smart Communities