A new guide released today offers conservation practitioners and natural resource managers guidance on carrying out conservation in a changing climate.
Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice looks at how climate change already is affecting the nation’s wildlife and habitats, and addresses how natural resource managers will need to prepare for and adapt to these unprecedented changes. Developed by a broad collaboration of experts from federal, state, and non-governmental institutions, the guide offers practical steps for crafting conservation actions to enhance the resilience of the natural ecosystems on which wildlife and people depend.
"Wildlife across our nation are experiencing the impacts of climate change," said Collin O’Mara, incoming President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. "These impacts are no longer a distant concern--they are happening right now. To continue our legacy of conservation achievements, we must modernize our approach to restoring and improving the resilience of wildlife habitat by following the best practices highlighted in this forward-looking guide to conservation in a warming world."
As the scope and scale of climate impacts continue to reveal their impacts on our communities and natural resources, there is a growing recognition of the need to not only address the underlying cause of climate change, by reducing climate-disrupting carbon pollution, but also to prepare for and adjust to our new conditions, known as climate adaptation. Because there is no one-size-fits-all solution to adaptation, the guide emphasizes the need to be intentional and deliberate in linking conservation actions to climate impacts.
"Climate change is having a dramatic effect on America’s wildlife and iconic landscapes, and is challenging the ability of managers to sustain the ecological integrity of our lands and waters,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Mike Connor. “This new guide provides resource managers with practical steps for determining what they will need to do differently in light of a changing climate to best ensure the resiliency of the natural resources that define and support so many of our communities."
Climate-Smart Conservation complements the recently released National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, which provides a high-level roadmap for sustaining the nation’s ecosystems in the face of a changing climate. The new guide offers a means to translate and carry out that plan’s strategies at particular places, offering hope for the future to sites ranging from our grandest national parks to cherished local community greenways.
"The fate of our nation’s wildlife and natural places depends on steps we take now to prepare for and become more resilient to the growing impacts of a changing climate," said Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator. "This guide provides resource managers with practicable and forward-looking tools that move us from adaptation planning to on-the-ground action."
"Natural and nature-based features are becoming important components of building resiliency and reducing risk to coastal communities in the face of climate change," noted Steven L. Stockton, Director of Civil Works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "This guide offers important information we can use to reduce risk to people and wildlife in an era of climate change."
"As a nation, we must take action to reduce the impacts of climate change already happening to our water, air, land and wildlife by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing resiliency plans," said Acting Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development, Lek Kadeli. "This guide is an important tool for managing the change that is upon us so we safeguard our natural resources."
The 272-page guide is organized around a stepwise framework for adaptation planning and implementation that helps demystify what can be a complex and bewildering subject. The guide addresses such topics as:
- Assessing climate change vulnerability
- Reconsidering conservation goals in light of climate change
- Identifying, evaluating, and selecting adaption strategies
- Tracking the effectiveness of adaptation actions
- Dealing with uncertainty
"Climate change is the defining issue for conservation in the 21st century" said Dr. Bruce Stein, National Wildlife Federation’s Director of Climate Adaptation and lead editor of the new guide. "Whether you already are deeply involved in climate adaptation, or just beginning to think about climate change, Climate-Smart Conservation is designed to help you take the next step in safeguarding our wildlife and wild places."
This peer-reviewed publication was developed by an expert workgroup convened by the National Wildlife Federation that included individuals from: Desert Research Institute, EcoAdapt, Environmental Protection Agency, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Geos Institute, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, Point Blue Conservation Science, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Wildlife Conservation Society. A training course based on the guide is being offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center.