Our Work

Climate, Conservation and Stewardship

What is Conservation's Impact on Climate?

Through conservation and stewardship, the Trust works every day with the community to help stem the negative impacts from rising greenhouse gas emissions.

In recent years, the Trust’s work has taken on urgency related to Climate impacts, with our focus on conservation and stewardship focused on mitigation and restoration. This includes:

  • Working with New York State to identify and conserve lands that protect our drinking water (RAPLAP) with a $9 million commitment for acquisitions. Three parcels have been protected to date!
  • Farmland conservation and the promotion of sustainable farming practices that grow our local food production and consumption.
  • Shoreline conservation and research on Living Shorelines that provides for the protection of neighborhoods and the growth of healthy wetlands in the face of storm surge.
  • Educational programs for landowners that promote sustainable lawns and landscapes and reduce harmful chemicals.

Undeveloped, natural landscapes — including woodlands, farmlands, meadows and other natural habitats — absorb approximately 15 percent of the U.S.’s carbon dioxide emissions. Wetland and shoreline conservation adsorb storm surge, reduce the number of septic systems, and protect coastal communities. Growing food in our communities reduces the transportation impacts of importing food.

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The impacts of climate change are evident here on Long Island, including wetter springs, longer and drier seasons, sea-level rise that is eroding our shorelines, increase frequency of storms, and increase and changes in pests and diseases with devastating impacts our natural habitats and crops.

Through the basic actions of conserving land and stewarding the land in ways that are ecologically sensitive, we are mitigating the negative impacts of climate change.


In 2014, the Trust added a specific factor to its Conservation Criteriathe factors the Trust staff uses to identify and move forward on conservation initiatives — to highlight Climate Change as a basis for conservation: The property is significant for its potential to contribute to adaptation to the effects of climate change, such as projected sea-level rise, wetlands migration, coastal retreat, etc.


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How it Works

Land Conservation: Natural Lands and Habitat

The Trust has enabled the protection of over 3,000 acres of woodland on Long Island. Why does this matter for climate change? These lands help with the sequestration of carbon — which slow the flow of greenhouse gases into the air — and protect our sole source aquifer, the land beneath our feet that provides our drinking water here on eastern Long Island.

Many of our easements include limitations on clearing, precluding alteration or filling of wetlands, and the requirement of a Natural Resource Conservation Service plan.

Did you know that a single acre of undeveloped land over our aquifer can provide up to 1,562 gallons of recharge, which is the reflow of clean water back to the aquifer, a day?

A few recent examples of our work include:

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RAPLAP Project on Shelter Island

Farmland Conservation

Since our founding, our work has enabled the permanent protection of over 6,000 acres of farmland, much of which is producing healthy food for the local communities.

In the report, Greener Fields from American Farmland Trust, research found that an acre of farmland in New York produces 66 times fewer greenhouse gases than an acre of developed land — making farmland protection a key component of New York’s strategy to addressing the negative impacts of climate change.

Recent projects include:

  • 27 acres of farmland in Brentwood with the Sisters of St. Joseph (2019)
  • 33 acres of farmland in Water Mill (2017) — the land, acquired by the Trust was resold to local farmers growing food
  • 21 acres of farmland in Orient (2015) — the Trust’s Edward’s Farm, which is now back in active agriculture.

Today, 20,000 of Suffolk County’s 35,000 acres of farmland have been protected — and through multiple programs, we along with our partners in agriculture continue to work every day to protect more land for working farms.

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Pike Farms planting tomatoes at Uncle Leo's Lane farmland in Water Mill

Sustainable Agriculture/Local Food Programs

Through our Farms for the Future Initiative, we are providing both land access and educational programs that support our local farming community, including:

  • Soil health workshops for farmers in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Long Island Farm Burea, Suffolk County Soil and Water, American Farmland Trust and NRCS
  • Use of winter and summer cover crops on resting Farms for the Future Initiative farmland land to reduce soil erosion and improve soil health
  • Incubator program for new farmers that provide resources and mentorship
  • Farmland leasing to newer and established growers that enable them to increase their operations
  • Quail Hill Farm’s Advanced Apprenticeship program, which provides training for individuals interested in pursuing a career in farming
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Incubator fields at the Ag Center, June 2020


Spotlight Project

Sisters of St. Joseph, working with the Sisters, we developed a concept plan based on their Land Ethic Statement, which helped them move forward on:

  • solar power for the campus,
  • the installation of a water treatment facility,
  • installation a native habitat to replace a mowed lawn,
  • protecting pristine woodlands, and
  • reintroducing organic agriculture with leases to local farmers.
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Napolitano Farm at the Sisters of St. Joseph


Sustainable Lawn and Landscaping Programs

At Bridge Gardens, we have created a Lawn Expert program for homeowners in partnership with Paul Wagner of Greener Pastures Organics and the Perfect Earth Project to provide information and educational programs on lawn and landscaping practices. This includes weekly free Lawn Expert sessions at the garden, available in person and through email to LawnExpert@PeconicLandTrust.org.

Educational and Recreational Programs

Through our Connections programs we connect people of all ages to land and teach about the ecological benefits. These include:

  • Vegetable and plant workshops at Bridge Gardens, the Ag Center at Charnews Farm and Quail Hill Farm.
  • Our annual Lost Ladybug citizen science program with the Lost Ladybug Project at Quail Hill Farm. It was during our first program at the farm in 2011 where the 9-spotted ladybug — thought to have been extinct in New York — was rediscovered. Now, every year, we bring families together to search for the ladybugs and talk about why they are important to our ecosystems.
  • Talks with local farmers, beekeepers, and growers both in the fields and as part of our Long Island Grown conversations at Bridge Gardens
  • Paddle tours of local waterways with biologist Mike Bottini and
  • A myriad of walks, hikes and talks with local experts on everything from tree bark identification, to birding and water quality.

We welcome school groups to our preserves. A special program: Greenport Elementary School teacher Stephanie Pawlik uses Widow’s Hole Preserve as an outdoor classroom.

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Paul Wagner discusses lawn care at Bridge Gardens.

Adoption of Renewable Energy

The New York State goal of achieving 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 is achievable with efforts by all. The Trust is working toward an energy audit of its facilities and has looked at appropriately siting renewables at its facilities and preserves. For example, when the Trust’s main office in Southampton was renovated in 2017, we installed solar panels. We are currently looking at the possibility of expanding solar at our other facilities. In year one, the Trust saw the system produce 13,865 kWh of power in the year.

Advocacy

The Trust advocates for funding in support of state and federal programs that promote natural land and farmland conservation, stewardship programs that promote soil health, natural land restoration, and programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy solutions, including:

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Solar panels at the Southampton office.

Learn more about:

Green Initiatives

Over the last several years we have taken steps to minimize our carbon footprint by making our offices more efficient and by integrating "green principles" throughout the organization.

Regional Aquifer Protection Land Acquisition Program

Farmland Leasing Program

As part of our Farms for the Future Initiative the Trust has developed and formalized a Farmland Leasing Program for both new and established farmers.

Public Policy on Conservation

We are committed to keeping landowners, donors and our government partners up to date on the latest issues concerning land conservation legislation.

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