Combatting Climate Change

Flooded Road after Intense Storm
Invasive Bittersweet. Photo by Lisa Eggleston.
Invasive Bittersweet. Photo by Lisa Eggleston.

Dramatic climate changes are having an impact on our natural lands and waters.

Winters are getting warmer and wetter. Summers are getting hotter and drier. We are experiencing more intense storm events. As our region experiences the effects of a changing climate, SVT’s Stewardship team must adapt its land-management techniques.

Using strategies developed by the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS), MassWildlife, The Nature Conservancy, and other organizations, SVT has established several focus areas for our work:

Protect larger land areas

By protecting large expanses of land that sit adjacent to or in close proximity to each other, we create corridors of conservation land that allow native wildlife to migrate throughout the region. Our management efforts are also more effective when we work on a large expanse rather than a patchwork of small parcels.

Reduce the coverage of invasive plants

Removing invasive plants gives our native species the space they need to grow and adapt to the changing climate. Many invasive species, both plant and animal, can gain the upper hand with warming temperatures. While we cannot remove invasive plants from all properties, SVT prioritizes our natural areas that host rare species, provide critical wildlife habitat, and are more diverse for intensive invasive-species control efforts. 

Remove tree hazards

Because intense storms take down more trees, SVT staff have become proactive in removing hazard trees before they fall. At the same time, we plant native trees to make up for the tree loss, and we select species that are most likely to survive in the changing climate.

Manage forests

Healthy forests should be diverse, have multiple layers, and contain a variety of tree species. SVT is taking a more active role in forest management. On lands that feature a tree stand of only one species, we will remove that stand and replace it with a diversity of native trees and shrubs. SVT also may selectively cut trees or groups of trees to enhance forest structure and diversity.

Prescribed Burn, Desert Natural Area 2014. Photo by SVT Staff.
Restore and maintain fire in fire-adapted habitats

Long-term fire suppression leads to changes in plant composition and structure. By conducting prescribed burns on some properties, we provide plants and wildlife with their required habitat, and we also reduce the risk of severe wildfire.

Manage deer where deer populations are overabundant

Climate change can exacerbate forest stressors such as overbrowsing. Keeping deer populations lower will ensure a diversity of food plants and wildflowers as well as allow tree seedlings to grow and regenerate the forest.

Maintain vernal pools

Vernal pools are unique habitats that need to be maintained for the species that depend upon them for survival.