Local Impact of Protected Land
ACRES Land Trust owns and protects over 7,300 acres of natural and working lands in northeast Indiana, southern Michigan and northwest Ohio. This work is driven by our mission to inspire people to value, appreciate and support these places, for the benefit of all — today and forever.
The benefits of protected land are many — cleaner air and water, habitat for plants and animals, preservation of culturally and historically significant places, beautiful places to explore and more! This summer, ACRES intern Joelle Buller captured some of these benefits in a sustainability report.
A senior sustainability student at Taylor University, Buller worked with ACRES to review the organization’s current practices with the goal of providing direction and support for future sustainable development.
Here are some of the highlights from her report:
Impact of Natural Areas
ACRES preserves forests, wetlands, native grasslands, unique geologic formations and habitat for plants and animals including rare, threatened and endangered species.
These natural areas are places where large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere can be stored through carbon sequestration. Over 70% of ACRES land cover is forest or wetland, ensuring that carbon will continue to be stored there in the future.
Using the Nature Conservancy’s tools, Buller estimated that ACRES land stores 322,198.7 metric tons of carbon. She also found that ACRES forests could potentially sequester as much as 1,431.7 metric tons of carbon per year.
Working Lands Support Communities
ACRES also protects farmland, managed forests and property for other uses. Like natural spaces, working lands can also be at risk of development. According to Buller’s report, the 500 acres of working lands ACRES protects can support the local economy and food system while generating revenue for managing natural areas.
As ACRES creates partnerships and easements for working lands, the environmental and social sustainability of local communities can grow. Working land is protected from development and can be leased to local farmers below market value. These farmers are then required to follow best management practices to ensure healthier land, such as no-till farming and cover crops.
Thank you, Joelle Buller, for your thorough and encouraging sustainability evaluation.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2021 ACRES Quarterly, mailed to members each season. The 20-page Quarterly features ACRES news, stories and events. You can subscribe by becoming an ACRES member with a donation of $20 or more. Click here to learn more!