An Earth Day Address

A message from Open Space Authority General Manager Andrea Mackenzie:

"To reconnect with nature is key if we want to save the planet."
-Jane Goodall

You don’t have to be a scientist to have noticed this year’s unseasonably warm, dry winter. As climate change progresses, we are experiencing shifting seasons, shorter and more severe periods of rainfall, longer droughts, extreme weather events, and record temperatures. The climate crisis is upon us, but there is much that can be done to address these threats, right here in our own backyard. I was pleased to see the 2022 theme of Earth Day, Invest in Our Planet, because one of the smartest investments we can make is the protection and stewardship of natural infrastructure.

Natural infrastructure is defined as natural lands that are actively managed to provide multiple benefits for the wellbeing of people and the environment. Here in South Bay, the protected natural and working lands of Coyote Valley and the Pajaro Agricultural River Preserve are becoming statewide models for the kinds of actions we can - and must - take right now to address the climate emergency. As multi-benefit landscapes protected through coordinated local actions, these areas are helping Santa Clara Valley meet climate goals, increase resilience, and address inequities in our communities.

Using nature-based solutions, we can work with and enhance nature to help support healthy ecosystems and address challenges caused by the changing climate.

As drought conditions worsen, we must work to protect flood plains and riparian areas that are critical for water quality and supply.

As hotter days make it harder to safely enjoy the outdoors, we must invest in urban forestry to steward the mature tree canopy we have and plant many more trees, so we expand the benefits they provide for clean air and cooler cities.

As drier conditions lead to wildland fires (and thus poor air quality), we must protect the open spaces that serve as buffers for nearby urban communities.

As farmers face the financial burden of shorter growing seasons, and smaller harvests, we must support their livelihoods and protect our remaining farmland that provide a dependable local food supply.

And as local wildlife populations are threatened due to destruction and fragmenting of habitat by roadways and fencing, we must protect a network of linked habitats to provide wildlife with access to food, water, shelter, and space to roam.

There is growing public support and momentum to take action on climate change and make significant investments in nature and natural infrastructure. But we are running out of time to protect a functioning planet for future generations. So, let's embrace a future where we integrate considerations of nature and natural infrastructure to meet our needs. Because when we protect and care for nature, nature will care for us.


Andrea Mackenzie
General Manager

NCOY - Press Conference Andrea Mackenzie - K.Simon - 2021-11-17 - 4-1

April 04, 2022
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Charlotte Graham

Public Information Officer