Protecting Remington Woods For People and the Planet is the Right Corporate Sustainability Choice for Corteva
Climate change has changed our world in unprecedented ways: monster monsoons, climate change refugees, heat stress, frequent extreme weather events, species and habitat loss, and environmental degradation. Here in Connecticut, we have seen more extreme storms, historic droughts, warmer temperatures, flooding events, and sea level rise. Americans are growing increasingly worried that extreme weather and other environmental problems will impact them.
Strategies protecting and preserving forests and trees to sequester carbon are needed, alongside reducing emissions, to address the accelerating climate crisis and to clean up our air. Right now, one corporation – Corteva – an American agricultural chemical independent public company (formerly the agricultural unit of DuPont) has the unique opportunity to protect 422 acres of forest in Fairfield County.
Corporations recognize that the public is deeply concerned about climate change and supports businesses that are taking action. Corporate climate commitments, however, must be more than a green-washed marketing campaign. Some are no more than nominal attempts to align goals, like the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with already established company objectives. Producing a slick brochure or hosting a panel discussion about sustainability without real action doesn’t cut it.
Climate change also poses a wide range of risks for businesses, from regulatory and political uncertainty and disrupted supply chains to rising insurance costs or lack of insurance available, operational impacts (labor challenges and facility damage), and reputational damages. Businesses can avoid the worst future impacts of the climate crisis by prioritizing carbon sequestration, as well as undertaking an all-out effort to decarbonize their own businesses, and work with local governments to decarbonize the economy.
And while aligning with global standards for greenhouse gas emissions reduction is essential, businesses should also be focused on local inventory – by simply inquiring, “How does our organization impact the environmental conditions of the region that we are local to?”
This question takes us back to Corteva. Remington Woods, owned by Corteva, is a 422-acre forest nestled between the City of Bridgeport and the Town of Stratford, with a majority of the forest in Bridgeport. Bridgeport, with multiple polluting facilities and two highways running through it, has a deficient tree equity score and child asthma hospitalization rates that are twice as high as the state. Stratford, recently, has been working to continue conserving its existing green spaces, particularly near areas with developing roads.
Photo: An aerial shot captured of Remington Woods #saveremingtonwoods
Remington Woods is a former manufacturing site with a complicated history. While mostly untouched forest, parts of the woods were contaminated. It is currently being remediated by Corteva under the guidance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP). For more than a decade, Corteva has spent around $80 million on remediation of this property.
Corteva’s corporate “Sustainability Goals” include “improved health of pollinators, forests, wetlands and other natural ecosystems without negative impacts to the system”. Additionally, Corteva prides itself on the strides it has taken towards “strengthening… understanding of the communities [they] serve and driving…sustainable growth” and it plans to continue working towards diversity and inclusion as part of its equity commitments.
Protecting and preserving all 422 acres of Remington Woods for the enjoyment of the local residents fits into these goals. For years, residents, advocates, and organizations have strongly recommended that Corteva consider conservation as an outcome for the Remington Woods property. Yet, Corteva has indicated it may want to develop parts of Remington Woods. We believe that protecting Remington Woods is the better choice for people, the community, and the planet, as well as for Corteva.
Our perspective on protecting Remington Woods includes the following issues:
Protecting Remington Woods is needed for climate and community health.
Remington Woods serves its community by cleaning and cooling air, binding toxic substances, and giving off oxygen – improving the health of its neighbors. The woods hold carbon, absorb CO2, and help control global heating. The woods provide shade, protect communities from summertime heat, and reduce ultraviolet radiation UV-B by 50%. Additionally, protecting the woods would aid in the physical healing and mental well-being of its surrounding community members.
From an infrastructure perspective, Remington Woods calms winds and reduces the severity of storms and floods by absorbing flood runoff. The woods also aid soil fertility and assist with erosion control. Protecting the forest can lead to a reduction in community violence, and a reduction of noise pollution, which ultimately protects and enhances property values
Preservation opens up opportunities for community connections.
Corteva has the chance to connect and build rapport with the residents and community members that border this urban forest and want to see it preserved. Community member stewardship is critical to the success of a protected Remington Woods and can provide a vision for the future of this unique urban forest.
Corteva has the opportunity to collaborate and engage with some of the most brilliant minds by opting for conservation. Connecticut is home to some of the nation’s most renowned and prestigious colleges and universities (including Yale University) – all of which have programs or student bodies eager to engage with land and organizations that are committed to impacting the effects of climate change. And, the nation’s first green bank, the Connecticut Green Bank, is looking for ways to support environmental infrastructure projects.
Demand for office space is low.
The City of Bridgeport has been working to resuscitate business growth largely by encouraging new developments. Those efforts have not been entirely successful. Brian Lockhart, a CT Post reporter, reports that the Bridgeport government center recently “solicited proposals for a municipally-owned building and it garnered an unexpectedly poor number of responses…” – one response to be exact, and this has not been an isolated incident.
“Post”-pandemic, more and more organizations have been reevaluating their physical footprint, and reconsidering their real-estate decisions; with company CEOs, like Shopify’s Tobi Lutke, tweeting “Office centricity is over” and announcing the option of permanent remote work. It seems wasteful to attempt economic stimulation or to look for a return on investments with new commercial buildings – particularly in Bridgeport.
With numerous businesses struggling to stay open and closing down, including the Bridgeport Holiday Inn, the pandemic impacting daily office tenancy, and a downtown area that is in dire need of revitalization, many community residents are reasonably reluctant to support the development of the Remington Woods’ forested land.
Preservation of Remington Woods fits into Corteva’s Sustainability Goals.
Conserving Remington Woods allows Corteva to meet its Sustainable Goals through a nature-based solution. Specifically, restoring degraded natural capital can contribute to addressing goals 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 13, 14, and 15.
The State of Green Business reports that “a few leadership firms are working directly with local governments and communities around the world to leverage nature’s inherent genius. Regulating the climate is just one of the many services provided by healthy natural systems.” Conservation is a solution that does not require invention or patent. “Nature-based solutions are finding their place in food production, disease prevention, air filtration, water purification, waste minimization, and other processes. All of these opportunities are coming under the gaze of business and sustainability groups seeking to advance these relatively simple tools”.
Although climate change presents us with unprecedented challenges, it also gives us opportunities for overdue innovative strategies. It serves as an invitation to approach business differently – digging deep into our reservoirs of divergent thinking and emerging with linings of hope for a greener tomorrow.
How can you learn more and help protect Remington Woods?
To continue putting pressure on Corteva to consider conservation as a reasonable tactic for meeting sustainability goals, sign and share our petition to Save Remington Woods.
On October 28th, we will be hosting a hybrid Remington Woods town hall meeting with a presentation by Kaley Casenhiser and Walker Commack, graduate students from the Yale School of the Environment. RSVP here!
Jhoni Ada is Sierra Club Connecticut’s Community Outreach Coordinator on the Save Remington Woods project in Bridgeport, along with other outreach and projects within the city and Fairfield County.