Nature-Based Solutions

Nature-based solutions to climate change are cost-effective models that simultaneously provide environmental, societal, and economic benefits and help build climate resilience.

To address the climate crisis, we not only need to cut emissions and transition our economy to clean energy, but we also must put carbon back in the ground. Forests, natural areas, parks, farmland, and open spaces all have the capacity to absorb large amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere through plants and trees, returning carbon to the soil. These solutions help improve air quality, reduce flooding, cool urban heat islands, and make neighborhoods more livable. We need to ensure that the existing forests, farms, parks, and natural areas are preserved and we need to protect new ones.

Openlands is pursuing this strategy to address climate change. We welcome partnerships that address our region’s energy use and emissions, and as Chicago’s regional land trust, we are uniquely positioned to champion these land-based solutions.

Natural Area Restoration

Restoration is the process of returning the land to a healthy state for nature, wildlife, and people. We are actively restoring natural areas at the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve, Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Lake County’s Liberty Prairie Reserve, and at several sites in the Des Plaines River Watershed.

Chicago’s Urban Forest

Trees provide essential economic services, improve the quality of life for residents and wildlife, mitigate the threats of climate change to our region, and help to beautify our neighborhoods and parks.


Greenways are models of sustainable development that connect habitats, allow wildlife to migrate, and promote access to recreation for residents.

Clean Water

As the region’s climate changes, and we continue to grow, more frequent and intense storms rack our communities. Millions of gallons of flood waters — contaminated with sewage, pollution, and roadsalt — flush into our rivers and Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for over six million people in our region. We need to protect our most vital natural resources.

Farmland Conservation

Openlands works with landowners to implement conservation-friendly practices on working lands and ensure that the farmland in our region stays as healthy.