Scenic Hudson Land Trust: Prioritizing Lands in Light of Sea Level Rise
Scenic Hudson, a land trust based in New York, is actively working to reduce the impacts of climate change through conservation, planning, policy, and awareness. Specifically, Scenic Hudson is protecting lands that make habitats more resilient to sea level rise, promoting renewable energy solutions, supporting climate-smart agricultural practices, and helping riverfront communities prepare for sea level rise and more frequent flooding. Essential to their efforts have been partnerships and collaboration with state and local governments and other NGOs; communication with partners has enhanced organizational capacity, avoided project redundancy, and aligned regional efforts.
Scenic Hudson initially became interested in climate change when staff began looking into carbon sequestration and other carbon-based markets as an additional income source for their land holdings. After completing an analysis, it was determined that the land trust is not large enough and does not have the proper vegetation cover to act as a marketable carbon sequestration site.
However, climate change continued to be a prominent issue at the land trust, buoyed by the increasing number of climate-related initiatives in New York. For example, the Nature Conservancy launched “Rising Waters,” a stakeholder participation process throughout the entire Hudson River Valley to assess vulnerability to sea level rise, and communities within Hudson Valley began to participate in the Climate Smart Communities program led by the New York Department of the Environment.
Climate change has become a central issue for Scenic Hudson. Staff focus their efforts on reducing climate change impacts through conservation, planning, policy, and awareness activities. Specifically, Scenic Hudson is focused on:
- Protecting lands that improve habitat resilience to sea level rise and other impacts;
- Promoting renewable energy that avoids or lessens impacts to regionally important assets;
- Supporting and encouraging climate-smart agricultural practices; and
- Helping riverfront communities prepare for sea level rise and more frequent flooding.
To help catalyze long-term planning for sea level rise along the estuary, Scenic Hudson has developed the Sea Level Rise Mapper tool, which shows the estimated water depth for each increment of sea level rise; created the Protecting the Pathways initiative and interactive story map, which shows the impacts of different sea level rise scenarios on tidal wetlands and provides examples of ways to take action; and partners in leading the Hudson Valley Flood Resilience Network, which is a network of communities working to plan and implement adaptation actions in response to sea level rise.
Scenic Hudson also created Clean Energy, Green Communities, a guide to siting renewable energy while also preserving natural and economic assets in the Hudson Valley, and the Hudson Valley Conservation Strategy, which identifies and prioritizes climate-resilient priorities for protection that also conserve biodiversity and improve landscape connectivity.
Outcomes and Conclusions
Scenic Hudson is actively incorporating climate change into all aspects of their activities. They are conserving properties along the Hudson River to buffer future sea level rise impacts, engaging with the public through education and outreach projects, promoting smart renewable energy siting, and generating and sharing science-based practices to help communities and farmers become more resilient to climate impacts.
One thing that has been essential to their success has been partnerships with local and state governments and other NGOs. Communication with partners has reduced project redundancy and increased funding coordination. The Hudson Valley has the added benefit of having some world class research institutes that have acted as local sources of information and knowledge.
Feifel, K. (2020). Scenic Hudson Land Trust: Helping the Hudson River Valley Adapt to Climate Change [Case study on a project of the Scenic Hudson]. Version 2.0. Product of EcoAdapt’s State of Adaptation Program. (Last updated June 2020)