Categorized | Climate Change

Getting Strategic about Climate Change Adaptation

Back in February the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and state fish and wildlife agencies put forth a new concept in conservation, the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy.   This unprecedented effort brought together 23 federal, state and tribal entities to “to inspire and enable natural resource professionals and other decision makers to take action to conserve fish, wildlife, plants and  ecosystem functions, as well as the human uses, values and benefits these natural systems provide, in a changing climate.”

The strategy is a call to action to protect and restore resilient habitat and habitat corridors, integrate climate change into existing conservation programs, build the conservation community’s capacity to address climate change, invest in coordinated research and monitoring, and provide natural resources managers the tools they need to adapt to a changing environment.

As we all know, a strategy is only as good as the actions that follow from it. And while it is vitally important that we enhance the climate resilience of our natural areas and habitats, climate change is going to affect many other sectors as well, and no one set of preparations should occur in a vacuum. That’s why it was interesting to see the new “Preparing for a Changing Climate: Washington State’s Integrated Climate Response Strategy.  This new plan is truly strategic in addressing climate change adaptation, drawing on the on the National Strategy for elements relating to wildlife, habitats, forests, and aquatic and marine species, but also addresses agriculture, infrastructure, and human health in a single, integrated plan.

Washington’s strategy is divided into nine different overview topics: A) Human Health; B) Ecosystems, Species and Habitats; C) Coasts and Oceans; D) Water Resources; E) Agriculture; F) Forests; G) Infrastructure and the built environment; H) Research and Monitoring; and I) Communication, Awareness, Engagement. The goals and strategies pertaining to natural resources topics closely mirror those of the National Strategy (see table below).

Incorporating the goals and elements of the National Wildlife Adaptation Strategy into the plans of federal and state agencies, tribes, and other conservation partners is the best way to ensure that the National Strategy will actually be implemented to reduce the impacts of climate change on the nation’s biodiversity.

 

National Strategy Washington State
Goal 1: Conserve habitat to support healthy fish, wildlife and plant populations and ecosystem functions in a changing climate.

 

B-1. Conserve habitat necessary to support healthy fish, wildlife, and plant populations and ecosystem functions in a changing climate, and protect connectivity areas between critical habitats to allow the movement of species in response to climate change.

 

C-3. Accelerate efforts to protect and restore nearshore habitat and natural processes.

 

F-1. Conserve and restore healthy, resilient forests across ownership boundaries and large geographic ranges to minimize the threats from climate change and extreme weather events.

 

 

Goal 2: Manage species and habitats to protect ecosystem functions and provide sustainable cultural, subsistence, recreational, and commercial use in a changing climate. Incorporating climate change information into fish, wildlife, and plant management efforts is essential to safeguarding these valuable natural resources.

 

 Strategy 2.3 Conserve genetic diversity (all  species)

B-3. Manage species and habitats to

protect ecosystem functions and provide sustainable cultural, recreational, and commercial use in a changing climate.

 

B-4 also gets at integrating climate change into planning.

 

F-2. Maintain and protect forest species and genetic diversity across the landscape to ensure long-term conservation of our forest genetic resources and help buffer against impacts of climate change.

 

Goal 3: Enhance capacity for effective management in a changing climate. B-5. Build capacity and support for the adoption of response strategies that help protect and restore ecosystem function and services at risk from climate change.

 

C-4. Build local capacity to respond to coastal climate impacts by providing tools to assess vulnerability and advancing research, monitoring, and engagement efforts.

 

F-4. Build capacity and support for maintaining, enhancing, and restoring resilient and healthy forests.

 

Goal 4: Support adaptive management in a changing climate through integrated observation and monitoring and use of decision support tools.

 

H. Research and Monitoring.
Goal 5: Increase knowledge and information on impacts and responses of fish, wildlife and plants to a changing climate.

 

 

 

 

 

B-4. Integrate climate adaptation

considerations for species and ecosystems

into natural resource and conservation planning, land use and infrastructure planning, and resource allocation and public investment initiatives.

 

C-5. Enhance our understanding and monitoring of ocean acidification (pH) in Puget Sound and coastal waters as well as our ability to adapt to and mitigate effects of seawater acidity on shellfish, other marine organisms, and marine ecosystems.

 

 

Goal 6: Increase awareness and motivate action to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants in a changing climate.

 

B-5 also discusses “building support”

 

I. Awareness and engagement.

Goal 7: Reduce non-climate stressors to help fish, wildlife, plants, and ecosystems adapt to a changing climate. B-2. Reduce non-climate stressors to help fish, wildlife, plants, and ecosystems be more resilient to the effects of climate change.

This post was written by:

- 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.

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