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'Climate atlas' for public lands provides key information on conservation

Climate Atlas image
Posted at 10:42 AM, Nov 16, 2021

DURANGO, CO — A Climate Atlas developed by conservation organizations launched Tuesday is designed to give policymakers, advocates, and regulators key information about climate, biodiversity, carbon, and other characteristics of public lands in order to help preserve them.

Developed by the Conservation Lands Foundation and Conservation Science Partners, the publicly-available Climate Atlas allows users to do the following:

  • View baseline data on the ecological health and status of a landscape, and what the government is currently doing (or not doing) to protect it.
  • Identify which public lands offer the best opportunities for storing carbon, preventing species loss, and protecting biodiversity.
  • Scan already-protected lands and where oil and gas wells are located.
  • Prioritize which public lands to protect based on selected values.

“The Climate Atlas comes at a critical phase of decision making for how the U.S. will achieve the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative and address the global and national challenges of climate change and protect the health and diversity of nature,” said Danielle Murray, senior legal and policy director at Conservation Lands Foundation.

“Public lands offer the greatest opportunity for federal action, and we’ve built what we believe will be an immensely valuable tool and game-changer in how people understand their benefits.”

For example, because of its detailed scale, it’s possible to see how the unprotected terrain in the Western Arctic has low climate stability while ranking in the top percentages for carbon storage, ecological intactness, and other biodiversity values.

"Mitigating the impacts of climate change and stemming the loss of biodiversity are two of the most important conservation challenges facing humanity today" said Dr. Justin Suraci, lead scientist at Conservation Science Partners.

"This tool draws on the best available data to provide rigorous, science-based recommendations on which landscapes to prioritize in meeting these crucial goals."

The Climate Atlas is free to use and available online here.