~ Reduce Local Climate or Related Change

Reducing local change can help minimize vulnerability in natural systems. This may include maintaining riparian and vegetation cover or reducing deforestation, which in turn can reduce the risk of flooding, erosion, and temperature extremes by providing shoreline stabilization, increasing water retention, slowing water flows and velocity, and increasing direct shading and cooling to support temperature regulation.

The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) manages the water and natural resources in the Grand River Watershed in Southern Ontario. Part of the GRCA’s strategy to increase resilience in the watershed includes creating buffers, planting vegetation, restoring wetlands, and enhancing water storage. Riparian buffers provide habitat, reduce erosion, and trap nutrients and sediment runoff thereby enhancing water quality. Planting trees and enhancing wetlands helps to increase available habitat and enhance the ability of the ecosystem to filter and uptake waterborne nutrients and soils while also shading water bodies in order to regulate temperature changes.209

The Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature: Community Action Strategies provides examples of how residents can help mitigate and adapt to climate change. One strategy is to create climate-friendly gardens and lawns to enhance resilience. The document encourages gardeners to maintain trees and shrubs that can provide shade and sequester carbon.210 Similarly, the Huron River Watershed Council’s Stream Buffer Initiative encourages local residents to plant buffers on streamside/lakeside property. The Council created a model buffer ordinance with support from the EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which has been adopted by two local townships (Scio and Green Oak). The ordinance provides recommendations on permitted uses and activities within buffer zones, buffer width and zoning, and maintenance requirements.211

Urban forests are increasingly used for mitigation and adaptation purposes. In the City of Chicago, there have been increased efforts to establish urban tree canopy in order to mitigate increasing temperatures and stormwater management issues. The Chicago Trees Initiative has updated its planting lists to include trees that will be more likely to survive in a warmer climate. Southern tree species that are acclimated to warmer temperatures, such as swamp oaks, have been added to list, while the white oak, the state tree of Illinois, is no longer included.212

209 Farwell, J., D. Boyd, & T. Ryan. (2008). Making Watersheds More Resilient to Climate Change: A Response in the Grand River Watershed, Ontario Canada. Grand River Conservation Authority.

210 Feifel 2012: The Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature.

211 Gregg 2012: Building Capacity for Climate-Resilient Communities and Water Conservation in the Huron River Watershed.

212 Gregg & Hitt 2012: A Roadmap for Action: The Chicago Climate Action Plan.