by Jamie Roberston, geospatial analyst at The Nature Conservancy
My name is Jamie Robertson, and I am a Conservation Geographer with The Nature Conservancy in Washington. I’m from North Carolina originally, where I grew up wandering forests and playing in streams, which built my passion for the outdoors and love of maps and led me to a geographer’s dream: the Pacific Northwest. In my current research, I’m looking at how Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) can combat climate change and how NCS pathways can provide co-benefits for people and nature, such as for salmon recovery.
We humans are way behind schedule for stopping the worst impacts of climate change. To turn this around we have to understand how to do it efficiently, quickly, and justly, and we have to communicate this in practical terms to decision-makers and their constituents.
Because of the urgency of the climate problem and because of the historical and current impacts humans have had on social and ecological systems, we must find fast and efficient solutions that achieve multiple benefits. We won’t be successful if we think about climate change mitigation and resiliency as separate activities.
Our current research indicates that with intensive implementation now, Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) pathways could reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 10% of Washington State’s net zero goal by mid-century. These pathways include improved forest management, improved agricultural practices, avoided ecosystem conversion, and ecosystem restoration. This finding has led me to begin researching how improved forest management in Washington can simultaneously help reduce our state’s net greenhouse gas emissions and benefit salmon. To do this, we are pairing a hydrological water quality model with a salmon productivity model under various scenarios of past and future forest management in the Ellsworth Creek watershed. Our goal is to scale this methodology up to larger coastal watersheds and other parts of the Pacific Northwest to inform regional climate mitigation and resiliency strategies.
I feel genuine hope and see real progress here in Washington as state policy-makers and local governments are trusting in climate change science and supporting nature-based climate solutions, and TNC science is part of those conversations.