Environmental resilience is the ability to cope with and recover from disturbances caused by climate change. We may not be close enough to the ocean to experience the effects of an increase in sea level but many of our streams do experience regular flooding as a result of heavy rains.
Extreme weather events affect not just our land but also our health. Hotter weather and extended heat waves increase the risk of heat stroke and dehydration. Earlier springs mean longer pollen seasons while wet weather can increase mold levels, both of which increase suffering in people who have allergies. Air pollution gets worse with higher temperatures and can contribute to respiratory problems. Then there are vector-borne diseases like Lyme, West Nile, and Zika, which may increase as higher temperatures and increased precipitation increase the population and range of ticks and mosquitoes.
Land protection is one strategy for ensuring that natural systems thrive, by reducing fragmentation and conserving carbon-storing forests and wetlands that temper flood damage. An especially important component of land preservation in northern Baltimore and Harford counties is the requirement for stream buffers, especially forested stream buffers. Stream buffers provide food, shelter, and travel corridors for wildlife on land and in the water. They filter excess nutrients from surface runoff. When they’re forested, stream buffers provide woody debris, an organic carbon source that helps microbes remove nitrates from the water, capture air-borne pollutants, and sequester carbon. You might say that riparian buffers are the kidneys of stream ecosystems, while forested buffers are the lungs.
Nearly all the easements The Manor Conservancy accept require hundred-foot stream buffers. We are preserving not just land, but health, habitat, and the environment.