Biodiversity loss is a particularly concerning effect of climate change because as greenhouse gas emissions increase global temperatures, decreases in the abundance and diversity of species has reduced ecosystem resiliency to these changes (Verchot et al. 2007). Weakened ecosystems and threatened species decrease the environment’s capacity to provide humans with services like safe drinking water, fuel, and protection from natural disasters, just to name a few (US EPA 2013). The agricultural industry plays a unique role in this environmental conversation, as farmland both contributes to climate change and is jeopardized by the negative effects created by the issue in a complex reciprocal cycle. This close relationship, along with the presence of 8.3 million acres of farmland in Virginia, suggests that agriculture should be incorporated into the state’s climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies (VDACS 2015b). Agroforestry, the strategic integration of trees in agriculture to create a sustainable land-use system, has been utilized for environmental benefits in the past (Bentrup 2014, USDA NAC 2012). This paper proposes the creation of a program that requires the use of agroforestry on large farms in order to preserve biodiversity in the wake of climate change. An alternative solution is a certification program for farmers who use agroforestry practices to enhance wildlife habitat. Economic incentives and implementation assistance will encourage participation, while funding for the establishment of this program, creation of publications, and organization of events will be sourced from governmental and private organization grants.
Poster prepared for the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar.
Pfeiffer, Taylor. "Branching Out: How Virginia Can Strategically Use Trees to Combat Biodiversity Loss." Poster for Environmental Studies Senior Seminar, University of Richmond, April 21, 2015.