Parks: the New Climate Change Classroom

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New report from the Institute at the Golden Gate highlights exceptional programs around the globe.

As the world becomes increasingly more urbanized, parks have an opportunity to communicate climate change science because of their historic role connecting people to the natural world

As the impacts of climate change again lead the news cycle, one organization is examining how we can best use parks as the new climate classroom. The Institute at the Golden Gate, a program of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the U.S. National Park Service, has released a new report highlighting climate change education programs in parks around the globe.

"One of the most precious values of the national parks is their ability to teach us about ourselves and how we relate to the natural world,” said U.S. National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis. This important role may prove invaluable in the near future as we strive to understand and adapt to a changing climate."

Billions of people visit parks globally each year, including nearly 300 million to U.S. national parks alone, enabling them to communicate important climate change messages to a wide audience. The report, Climate in the Parks: Innovative Climate Change Education in Parks, highlights strong climate change programs, exhibits, and activities that exist in parks worldwide. Examples include:

  •     National Park Service’s Climate Change Response Program—a comprehensive approach to integrating climate change mitigation, adaptation, and communication strategies at US national parks.
  •     Johannesburg City Parks, South Africa—engaging their community through education and conservation action in city parks.
  •     Pico de Orizaba National Park, Mexico—anchoring the Tickell Climate Theater Network, using Science on a Sphere technology developed by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

According to the Institute, the report is the first step in a new, far-reaching program aimed at exploring the ways in which parks are engaging audiences on climate change and fostering increased information sharing, collaboration, and collective action among parks, partners, other educators, and communities.

“As the world becomes increasingly more urbanized, parks have an opportunity to communicate climate change science because of their historic role connecting people to the natural world—whether the wilderness of Yellowstone National Park or New York City’s Central Park,” said Institute Director Chris Spence. “Communicating climate change through parks can become an international movement that helps protect the world around us.”

The next step, according to Spence, is the upcoming Parks: The New Climate Classroom, a convening to share, promote, and accelerate climate change education and communications in parks. Attendees and speakers will be drawn from the parks community and innovators in the fields of education, climate change communications, park interpretation, park management, design, and related fields.

About The Institute at the Golden Gate

The Institute at the Golden Gate works to harness the power of parks and public lands to advance environmental stewardship and human wellbeing. A program of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in partnership with the National Park Service, the Institute fosters new ideas, shares best practices, encourages leadership, and supports and implements public policy changes that will benefit people and the planet.

About the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is the nonprofit membership organization created to preserve the Golden Gate National Parks, enhance the experiences of park visitors, and build a community dedicated to conserving the parks for the future. The Parks Conservancy is an authorized “cooperating association” of the National Park Service, and is one of more than 70 such nonprofit organizations working with national parks around the country. To learn more, please visit http://www.parksconservancy.org or call (415) 561-3000.

Media Contact                                    
Christine Keeves, 617-410-6599

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Christine Keeves
Institute at the Golden Gate
617-410-6599
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