Tag Archives: climate change

The “MVP” of Climate Adaptation

Climate change impacts all of us. Along with sea level rise, we’re seeing extreme weather, inland and coastal flooding, and severe heat at a greater frequency and intensity. To adapt to climate change means to prepare for impacts like these, and one way that Mass Audubon is acting is through protecting and restoring nature. That’s because natural areas like forests and wetlands help us withstand these impacts in addition to storing carbon, helping us mitigate climate change simultaneously!

Mass Audubon partners with a program that prioritizes nature-based solutions to climate change— Massachusetts’ Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program. The MVP Program provides support for cities and towns in the Commonwealth to identify climate hazards like extreme weather, assess local vulnerabilities to these hazards, and develop action plans to increase resilience to climate change.

Two Steps Closer to Resilience

In addition to encouraging the use of nature-based solutions, the MVP Program’s core principles include using best available climate change science, leading a robust and equitable community engagement process, and enacting climate solutions that benefit the entire community—especially vulnerable populations most affected by climate change. Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Planning

First, municipalities participating in the MVP Program need to lead a community-driven planning process to understand climate hazards and vulnerabilities and to identify priority adaptation actions. The city or town works with a state-certified technical assistance provider (like Mass Audubon) and organizes a community workshop with a range of stakeholders that can speak to infrastructural, societal, and environmental needs in light of climate change.

Once a municipality completes the MVP Planning Grant process and submits a summary of findings, they become certified as an MVP Community, eligible to apply for Action Grants to achieve their climate resilience goals.

Step 2: Action

MVP Communities apply for Action Grants to implement on-the-ground projects that address the priorities identified during the planning stage. The potential for these projects is vast—they can include updating stormwater infrastructure given increases in precipitation, removing dams to restore stream flow, conserving a wetland to protect against flooding, or planting trees in an environmental justice community.

Getting an Action Grant can be competitive, but applications that prioritize nature-based solutions to climate change—which provide co-benefits to communities like improved air quality—are in a better position to receive the grant.

The Power of Partnerships

The MVP Program is a great example of partnership between state and local government to address the climate crisis, and MVP communities are working together to make their projects more impactful.

Thanks to MVP grants, four Greater Boston awardees are each focusing on extreme heat from climate change—an impact that was felt strongly this past summer. Since the four projects are similar in geographic area and project goal, the teams have been meeting regularly to learn from each other’s efforts and coordinate community engagement.

Multiple communities are also encouraged to apply for funding together, and Mass Audubon is a partner in one successful example of this. In Southeastern Massachusetts, the communities of Freetown, Lakeville, Middleborough, and Rochester are working together to create a nature-based watershed management and climate action plan in an area of interconnected lands and ponds known as the Assawompset Ponds Complex.

Get Involved

89% of the entire Commonwealth, or 312 municipalities, now participate in the MVP Program. You can help bring participation to 100% and encourage the use of nature-based solutions in your own city or town!

Whether or not your community is already involved in the MVP Program, contact your municipal officials to encourage using this opportunity to protect and restore nature. Even more, all Action Grant projects require public involvement, so your input as a stakeholder is highly valued.

Solving climate change is up to all of us, collectively. Visit our website for more ideas on how you can start acting for resilient, sustainable communities.

– Paige Dolci, Climate Resilience Coordinator

Urban Nature can Help Protect our Planet

Nature surrounds us and supports us, whether a large forest a few miles away or a street tree right in front of your home. The nature around you provides a number of services that help us withstand the impacts of climate change. So nature based solutions, like protecting existing natural areas and restoring damaged habitats, are key to solving climate change.

But it’s important we remember that cities also have an abundance of nature, which means we can use these nature based solutions in every Massachusetts community. Let’s explore a few examples.

Boston Food Forest and Boston Nature Center, Boston

Boston Food Forest Coalition and Mass Audubon Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Boston Food Forest Coalition (BFFC) is working with neighbors across the city of Boston to build a network of community-based edible gardens. Urban farms can offer pollinator habitat while boosting local access to green space and mitigating extreme heat felt in cities. Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary is home to the first flagship food forest demonstration site, which provides access to healthy food reflective of the surrounding community’s preferences.

Bridgewater State University Green Parking Lot, Bridgewater

Photo © Horsley Witten Group

When Bridgewater State University needed to upgrade the parking lot for its Marshall Conant Science and Math Building, they worked with the Horsley Witten Group to incorporate a little bit of nature by planting vegetation in trenches between the parking rows. The design accommodated more parking spaces. It also created bioretention trenches that catch and store stormwater runoff from the parking lot, filtering it before it soaks into the ground. 

Alewife Stormwater Wetland, Cambridge

Photo © Catherine Woodbury, City of Cambridge

The City of Cambridge and partners restored the degraded banks of Alewife Brook with engineered stormwater wetlands that manage the surrounding community’s stormwater and flows into the brook. Enhanced walking trails in the public park provide overlooks of the wetland, which is hard at work absorbing stormwater and filtering out pollutants.

Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary Rain Garden, Worcester

Impervious surfaces like roads, driveways, and buildings prevent rainfall from soaking into the ground, creating stormwater. Rain gardens, like the one at Mass Audubon’s Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, help to manage our stormwater problem. A rain garden is very intentionally designed to capture water and return it to the ground. The rain garden at Broad Meadow Brook purifies runoff from the parking lot and provides native pollinator habitat.

What You Can Do in Your City

You can help restore and protect the nature in your city. See whether your community participates in the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program. If they do, remind them that Action Grants can support land protection, and if they don’t, urge them to join. And to take action in your own yard, check out ways to restore native habitat on lawns.

– Danica Warns, Climate Resilience Coordinator