President’s Message – NC Climate Assessment and RESILIENCY Plan

Dear Wetland Supporters:

All of us at Carolina Wetlands Association are aware of need to address systemic racism in our society and clearly support the movements and peaceful protests that are calling for an end to such practices that are all too embedded into our society.  From an organizational point of view, we are focused on environmental equity.  We know that disadvantaged communities face environmental problems such as poor air quality or poor water quality. The Carolina Wetlands Association is working to make sure that the benefits of wetlands are experienced by all peoples.  This is illustrated by one of our projects where we have the opportunity to connect two diverse communities through a wetland park and help to increase environmental equity.      

Another effort that Carolina Wetlands Association has been involved with is the Natural and Working Lands (NWL) Stakeholder Group organized by the Governors Administration and NC Division of Environmental Quality.  The results of this effort are included in Chapter 6 (Nature Based Solutions to Resilience) of North Carolina’s Climate Assessment and Resiliency Plan. The entire NWL report is Appendix B of the Plan.  The Plan is meant to be a starting point for actions and will be improved over time.  

The NWL report emphasizes restoration and conservation of forests and wetlands to increase carbon sequestration.  The co-benefits of these efforts are also emphasized such as flood mitigation, water quality, recreation, community resilience, and education.  The NWL Report is a document that can be used to advance actions to mitigate climate change and help communities build resilience.

Highlights of the Natural and Working Lands Report

Pocosins: There is a section specifically devoted to Pocosin restoration which the US Fish and Wildlife Services is already doing at the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (a 2020 Wetland Treasure of the Carolinas) and the work of Dr. Curt Richardson (Duke University and on the Carolina Wetlands Board Member) restoring up to 10,000 acres of pocosin. 

Coastal Habitat: Wetland and forest restoration can help mitigate flooding and sea level rise. 

Flood Plains: Flood Plain Wetlands are critical to the restoring these areas back to their natural state to be a major mitigator of flooding and to sequester carbon. 

Forests: Actions include restoration and conservation to achieve a unique “no net loss” of forested lands in North Carolina.  There was also a call for landowner incentives to conserve their forest to sequester carbon as an alternative to harvesting.  Wetland forests are a major part of this effort. 

Agriculture: The agriculture section calls for regenerative agriculture practices to increase carbon sequestration and to continue to build our soils to a healthier state. 

Urban Lands: Increasing forests, flood plains and wetland restoration in urban areas (with their many co-benefits) and the implementation of site preparation measures before develop occurs to keep as many trees standing and not to through away our top soil. 

The NWL Report is a document that can be used to advance actions to mitigate climate change and help communities build resilience. These are some of the highlights of the document and I encourage you read it for yourself and to feel free to make suggestions for future versions of the document to me.

The Carolina Wetlands Association is committed to implementing the NWL plan and we have two projects in progress that will acquire wetlands, restore them to provide better function primarily with flood mitigation and carbon sequestration, but also to provide many co-benefits and ultimately have the resulting restored wetland will be owned by the communities we are working with.  This is a significant way to build community resilience and we will say more about this in the near future.  

Thanks all, be safe, and explore a wetland, virtually!