Board of Commissioners adopts inaugural Sustainability & Climate Resiliency Plan
The Forest Preserves of Cook County has adopted a plan to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The Sustainability & Climate Resiliency Plan provides strategies to lower its transportation- and building-related emissions by 4.5 percent per year.
With nearly 70,000 acres of land and the ability to absorb more than 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually—as much as the amount of greenhouse gas produced by 330,811 passenger vehicles driven for one year—the Forest Preserves play an essential role for the region’s climate change mitigation capacity. The plan also identifies a road map for how the Forest Preserves’ lands will be resilient in a changing climate.
“This Sustainability & Climate Resiliency Plan was developed to harness the various strengths within the Forest Preserves to address the pressing environmental issues of our time,” said Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall. “Climate change, pollution, invasive species, and habitat loss and fragmentation are threatening the health of our natural spaces, as well as global ecosystems. The Forest Preserves is dedicated to implementing responsible practices to protect our lands from these environmental stressors, and is committed to ensuring that our native landscapes, home to a remarkable diversity of plant and animal life, continue to thrive for generations to come.”
As an important part of the Forest Preserves’ founding mission to protect and preserve public lands and waters, the Sustainability & Climate Resiliency Plan will ensure that the Forest Preserves commits to using sustainable and low-impact practices in its operations, and challenges the agency to consistently perform all of its functions in the most environmentally responsible ways.
The plan, drafted in partnership with Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, is divided into five priority areas:
- Utilities & Emissions:
- Focus areas include GHG emissions measuring, reporting and reductions; green infrastructure integration; and water use tracking and efficiency
- Major objectives include reducing energy consumption by 4.5 percent annually and developing green building and site standards for future projects
- Preserve Operations
- Focus areas include transportation and waste and recycling
- Major objectives include reducing fuel usage by 4.5 percent annually and expanding recycling program to all FPCC facilities
- Learning & Engagement
- Focus areas include awareness and visibility, community engagement and employee engagement
- Major objectives include promoting green practices with permit holders and enhancing Earth Day sustainability programming
- Ecological Sustainability
- Focus areas include natural resources management and practices
- Major objectives include establishing Mitigating Impacts to Nature Policy as well as a Native Seed Policy outreach plan
- Implementation & Advancement
- Focus areas include green purchasing
- Major objectives include establishing a Green Purchasing Policy, establishing and promoting a plastic reduction campaign, and increasing energy rebates and incentives with utilities
The plan was approved by the Forest Preserves Board of Commissioners during the September Board meeting and is based on the vision, described in the Forest Preserves’ Next Century Conservation Plan, of being a leader in sustainable practices.
To learn more about the Sustainability & Climate Resiliency Master Plan or the Forest Preserves of Cook County, https://fpdcc.com/sustainability-climate-resiliency-plan/.
About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.