Perhaps the greatest long-term threat to many species unique to our region is global climate change. EHL is working to reverse this trend on several levels.

Multi-species reserve planning at a regional scale has become more important than ever as an adaptation strategy since larger, more contiguous, and more diverse reserve areas stand a better chance of being able to survive a more stressed environment – and EHL has been working hard to ensure that reserves are as robust as possible. EHL is also seeking provisions in federal legislation to use a portion of the revenue from a greenhouse gas emissions trading system for additional resources to acquire habitat land.

But two recent California laws provide a potential solution to the root cause of the problem – increased greenhouse gas emissions. California’s landmark climate change law, passed in 2006, requires a 20% reduction in greenhouse gases from 1990 levels by 2020. Nearly 40% of these gases are produced by motor vehicles, most of them passenger cars making sprawl-induced commutes. Legislation passed last year with EHL’s involvement, known as SB 375, requires regions to produce “sustainable communities strategies” if they are to obtain transportation funding advantages. These strategies must result in a targeted reduction in emissions through more efficient “smart growth” development patterns and innovative transportation policies.

The challenge now is to set meaningful state and regional targets, and to create sustainable communities strategies that will actually work. Working with ClimatePlan – a statewide coalition – EHL has assumed a lead role in ensuring that the legislation provides the intended benefits in Southern California.