Kentucky’s Land Conservation and Stewardship Project

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  • Conserve Kentucky initiative: A coalition formed to increase awareness of the importance of Kentucky’s lands and waters and to help coordinate important cross-cutting efforts among outdoor recreation, tourism, agriculture and environmental interests. The Conserve Kentucky initiative seeks to foster innovative collaborations between the public and private sectors that help sustain the benefits of Kentucky’s lands and waters for nature and for the communities who benefit from cleaner waterways and rich lands.

 

  • Protect Kentucky’s Remaining Forested Areas: The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service calculates 47% of Kentucky’s acreage is forested.  However, the loss of forests to development is one of the most serious threats to our forests. And invasive species, the Emerald Ash Borer and Woolly Adelgid, are killing the state’s Ash and Hemlock trees.

    The world’s 1.9 billion acres of temperate forests are a valuable, carbon sequestration sinks.  According to the World Resources Institute, more than 1.4 billion more acres are good candidates for restoration—as large-scale forests or mosaics of forests, more sparsely growing trees and land uses such as agriculture.

    While Kentucky’s forests are not threatened by the large-scale deforestation altering the tropics, they suffer costly impacts of climate change:  hotter, more frequent droughts, longer heat waves, more severe wildfires and worsening insect and disease damage.  Left unchecked, these disturbances will push our forests beyond their coping capacity.  Protection and restoration efforts will need to evolve in response to these threats.

 

  • Limit Forest Fragmentation, Develop Wildlife Corridors: Fragmented land can block plants and animals from migrating to adapt to climate change.  Conversely, contiguous land corridors protect biodiversity by serving as migration paths to more suitable landscapes.  Recent studies have shown the average species has moved nearly 12½ miles per decade poleward, and over 38 ft. per decade up in elevation, based on historical climate changes.

     

    The Kentucky Natural Lands Trust’s Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor is a great example.  Its effort to create a contiguous migratory wildlife corridor from Virginia to Tennessee will provide both suitable migration corridors and carbon sinks through forest preservation.  It’s the largest conservation project in Kentucky’s history, and is built on the cooperation of many landowners who want to protect the mountain’s mixed mesophytic forest in perpetuity.

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