WASHINGTON (June 3, 2020) – “Farmers, ranchers and foresters are too often unsung heroes in the fight against climate change, and this bill is a first step in giving them the resources they need to maintain their lands in a way that supports common sense conservation,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society, “This bill will help to create a cleaner future for both people and birds, while also helping rural economies recover from the COVID-19 crisis.”
A bipartisan bill introduced today in the Senate will provide technical assistance for the agriculture and forestry sectors to improve their ability to reduce air pollution and remove carbon from the atmosphere through natural processes, such as storing it in the soil. The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020, led by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will help advance these natural climate solutions at the national level.
“Our nation’s farmlands, forests, and ranches hold untapped potential for removing harmful emissions from the air naturally,” said Sarah Greenberger, senior vice president for conservation policy at the National Audubon Society. “Through their leadership today, these senators are demonstrating sensible, bipartisan ways to support those who work the land while also addressing factors that threaten the birds we love.”
The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a set of nationwide protocols and standards that will help farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners adopt sustainable management practices like planting cover crops, prescribed grazing, and reforestation. In addition to improving the health of working lands, these practices serve as natural solutions to reducing greenhouse gas pollution.
Sustainable management of cropland, grazing land, and forests can help provide homes for threatened birds like Michigan’s Red-headed Woodpecker, the Wood Thrush of South Carolina and Indiana, and Rhode Island’s Blue-headed Vireo, all from co-sponsor’s respective states.
“Last year I spoke with Senator Braun about how he built hundreds of nest boxes on his Indiana property for his favorite bird, the Purple Martin,” said Yarnold. “Climate change threatens all of us, and a love of nature transcends party politics. Everybody wins when we put political differences aside and work together for our common survival.”
Audubon’s climate report, Survival By Degrees, found that if global temperatures are allowed to rise at current levels, two-thirds of North American bird species will be vulnerable to extinction. The report also shows different climate threats to specific regions, which also have implications for the people who live there too.
Audubon’s study determined that emissions must not only be reduced, but that existing emissions should be balanced out by natural and technological practices that remove carbon from the air. This balance, known as “net-zero” can be achieved by 2050.
Audubon has previously supported state-level efforts to use natural climate solutions to reduce emissions in Texas and South Carolina and helped secure the passage of legislation in Washington state to use farms and fields to capture carbon. Healthy fields and forests are natural solutions to climate change, while providing vital bird habitat that also benefits rural communities. Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Initiative certifies ranches that restore and protect bird habitat.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.
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