Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature

The Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature is the first regional analysis of how to navigate the complexities of nature conservation in a world with a changing climate.

The plan identifies three main strategies:

1. Mitigate the future impacts of climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Within Chicago Wilderness, this means promoting the invaluable role natural areas play in sequestering and storing carbon.

Healthy, robust natural areas sequester and store carbon. By preventing the destruction of native habitats, our preliminary calculations indicate that land protection in the Chicago Wilderness region has prevented the release of 53 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.The amount of carbon stored on these lands is equivalent to emissions from:

5 million cars for a year


120 billion miles driven


electricity from 7.1 million households for a year


a coal-fired power plant operating for 6 years, 7 months

2. Make our region’s natural areas resilient in the face of inevitable climate change impacts. One way to do this is by promoting and maintaining larger landscapes for nature conservation and connecting them with green spaces. Most of today’s conservation efforts inherently help mitigate climate change and improve the health of our natural areas. However, the success of all our past investments depends on our ability to recognize and adapt to changing circumstances.

3. Engage the Chicago Wilderness community in action, organizing the alliance’s vast network of conservation experts to create local solutions that have global impact. Alliance members are developing tools and strategies to integrate and implement the best science and natural resource management techniques across our landscape. Member organizations are also facilitating public outreach and education on this important issue, such as The Field Museum’s Chicago Community Climate Action Toolkit.

The Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature was created to serve as a resource for how the alliance could respond to climate change effects in the region--focusing on adaptation while still protecting lands as a form of mitigation. Together, our goal is to create healthy systems that will be able to be resiliant to climate changes. View a summary of the plan for more information.