Climate Crisis

WCS uses cutting-edge science to understand the impacts of climate change on wildlife and natural resources, plan conservation for a rapidly changing world, and implement on-the-ground solutions to protect ecosystems.

Our Goal

Address the causes and effects of climate change on the ecosystems on which both wildlife and human communities depend.

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Photo Credit: ©Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock

How will we get there?

WCS is implementing conservation programs all over the world to mitigate the impacts of CO2 emissions, and help affected people adapt to climate change:

  • We are protecting large swaths of tropical and boreal forest that sequester carbon through our work to protect intact forests and a mechanism called REDD+.
  • We are helping to restore degraded forest lands in areas of high conservation significance and where this can bring benefits to local people.
  • We partner with local communities and governments to find science-based solutions for adapting to the immediate and projected impacts of climate change.

Why WCS?

WCS has become one of the world's most respected institutions for climate science on the effects of climate change on biodiversity. In addition:

3 years

By 2025, 12 nature based solutions projects anchored in WCS land and seascapes will generate 10 million tonnes in emission reductions and carbon sequestration.

4 billion tonnes of CO2

If we and our partners are successful, our intact forest program will prevent emissions and lost sinks totalling more than 4 gigatonnes of CO2 by 2050—equivalent to almost three years of emissions from road transport in the U.S.

21.9 million dollars

Through the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund, we have awarded $21.9 million to support wildlife adaptation in the U.S.

Intact Forests

Preserving our planet’s remaining unharmed forests is one of the most powerful and cost-effective solutions we have to combat climate change. Here's how we are working to end the loss of these landscapes by 2030.

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On Our Work

Climate Science

Our scientists have created innovative and powerful solutions for addressing and managing the impacts of climate change in every region where we work.

Our science drives:

  • Ecosystem-based adaptive management and disaster risk reduction in the tropical Pacific Islands.
  • Leading-edge techniques for mapping ecosystem vulnerability to climate change.
  • Climate change and wildlife connectivity in the Albertine Rift region of Africa.
  • Pioneering research on climate impacts and adaptation strategies for protecting coral reefs in the western Indian Ocean.
  • Climate adaptation solutions in New York's Adirondack Mountains.
  • Thought-leading science on projecting how human responses to climate change will impact biodiversity.

Climate Adaptation

WCS is making a difference on this around the world.

  • In Madagascar, our science on climate change and coral reefs is helping to re-prioritize where government and local communities establish marine protected areas.
  • In Papua New Guinea, WCS is assisting small island communities in improving available information on climate change, increasing food security through climate-adapted agricultural practices, and enhancing community-based tools and approaches for climate change adaptation.
  • In the western United States, WCS is working to increase habitat connectivity for grizzly bears (a species for which nutritious high-elevation food sources are being impacted by warming temperatures and disease), through restoration of riparian areas that serve as critical movement corridors as bears seek new resources.

Climate Mitigation

We address the causes of climate change primarily by protecting large swaths of tropical forest that would emit CO2 if destroyed.

Through an international approach called REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) we help governments, forest managers, and local communities to:

  • Quantify and value the climate benefits provided by forest conservation.
  • Receive payments in recognition of reducing deforestation.
  • Re-invest those payments in low-carbon and climate resilient paths to sustainable development.

The Makira REDD+ Project

The project reduces deforestation in the Makira Natural Park in Madagascar—a protected area of 372,000 hectares or more than twice the size of greater London. We work with communities around the forest in a 'protection zone' of 350,000 hectares to develop sustainable livelihoods. Twenty percent of net revenues from carbon sales is invested in conservation activities within the park and 50 percent goes directly to local communities.

The Seima Protection Forest REDD+ Project

Located in eastern Cambodia, the project protects a key forest area in the foothills of the Annamite mountains of southern Indochina. It is an area of international importance for the conservation of primates, Asian elephants, wild cattle and many other species. The project has been validated by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and was verified by VCS and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB) through 2019.

Trillion Trees

Combining forest protection with the restoration of degraded lands has the potential to deliver up to a third of the climate mitigation action necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change. WCS has recently established a major new initiative to conserve and restore forests in partnership with WWF and Birdlife International. The partnership, called Trillion Trees, will increase the scope and scale of our work on REDD+ and other promising solutions, and leverage greater action on forest restoration through our global network of field projects. The Trillion Trees vision raises our collective ambition and looks beyond a “zero deforestation” future to one where forests and trees are returning on a large scale.

Forest First Approach

This framing provides the scientific rationale and the business case for the public and private sector to proactively triage and target emerging deforestation risks before they are heavily embedded within supply chains, and provides a lens through which emerging deforestation frontiers can be identified.

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