Climate Change and National Wildlife Refuge Planning

The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 directed every refuge to create a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP), a 15-year management plan to ensure the long-term conservation of fish, wildlife and habitats in accordance with the purpose of the refuge and the mission of the System. Secretarial orders issued in 2001 and 2009 made clear that climate change impacts should be include in refuge planning. Defenders of Wildlife analyzed the most recent CCPs as of June 2011 from each of the FWS regions to assess how comprehensively each is taking climate change into consideration.

All eight refuges are at some stage of incorporating climate change into their planning – completing an average of 60% of the criteria — but the level of comprehensiveness varied considerably.

The results, and description of the criteria, are summarized here.

The results of our analysis show that the FWS needs to provide refuge planners with guidance on how to include climate change into refuge CCPs to better prepare refuges, and the wildlife and habitat they protect, for the impacts of climate change.

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- who has written 22 posts on dotWild.

Aimee Delach is a Senior Policy Analyst at Defenders of Wildlife. Aimee develops policies to help land managers and decision-makers incorporate climate change threats into efforts to protect wildlife and habitats.

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dotWild is the blog of scientists and policy experts at Defenders of Wildlife, a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.