The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has a long-standing commitment to addressing the impacts of climate change on wildlife and natural habitats, and advancing the science and practice of climate adaptation. National Wildlife Federation staff have published extensively on the topic of climate change and wildlife conservation, including development of widely used guides to the practice of climate-smart conservation and vulnerability assessment. Many of these publications are listed below and available for download. A comprehensive list of adaptation-related publications that have been authored or co-authored by NWF staff can be found here.
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This report addresses the mounting risks of flooding and hurricanes to U.S. communities and how natural systems can help reduce risks from these natural hazards. A collaboration of National Wildlife Federation, Allied World Assurance Company, and Earth Economics, this publication considers whether federal, state, and local officials are using the policy tools at their disposal to protect people and property endangered from these growing threats. The report profiles how natural and nature-based approaches, such as restoration of wetlands, dunes, riparian areas and living shorelines, can be cost-effective and wildlife-friendly means of making coastal and riverine communities safer and more resilient to floods and hurricanes.
NWF and Great Lakes Commission collaborated on a project to identify approaches to climate change adaptation applicable to Michigan coastal wetlands. The project entailed working closely with a Project Review Committee made up of experts from agencies, academia, nongovernmental organizations, and private industry. Through committee input, a literature review, and experience of core team members, both adaptation best practices as well as criteria for evaluating and ranking them were identified. The resulting toolkit includes descriptions, challenges and benefits, case studies, and resources for 18 best practices, at both the institutional and project level. The toolkit should be useful for coastal wetland managers in Michigan as well as other coastal states considering how to manage wetlands in a changing climate.
Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles Into Practice (2014)
NWF and an expert workgroup consisting of leaders in climate adaptation from federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations offer guidance for designing and carrying out conservation in the face of a rapidly changing climate. This guide will help conservationists and resource managers incorporate climate change considerations into their work. The report demystifies the discipline of climate adaptation by offering a common-sense approach to adaptation planning and implementation that breaks the process into discrete and manageable steps.
Green Works for Climate Resilience: A Community Guide to Climate Planning (2014)
The intent of this guide is to provide communities with an overview of the kinds of nature-based approaches that can be used to respond to and prepare for the impacts of climate change, and provide descriptions and examples of the ways in which communities are already working to implement them, ranging from streamlining adaptation into existing zoning to the development of holistic, multi-sector adaptation plans. Nature-based approaches rely on enhancing, protecting, and restoring natural infrastructure, such as coastal wetlands, parks, and tree canopies, as well as features that mimic natural processes, such as rain gardens or green roofs that are used in low-impact development (LID).*
Assessing the Vulnerability of Key Habitats in New York: A Foundation for Climate Adaptation Planning (2013)
NWF in cooperation with New York's Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resources (DFWMR) conducted a statewide habitat vulnerability assessment in an effort to evaluate the vulnerability of New York's Primary Habitats. The assessment focused on upland systems that together voer 65-70% of the total land area in New York. Marine Systems were not included in the analysis due to limitations in the scope of the methodology. The goal is that the information developed through this project and included in this document will broadly inform the incorporation of climate change considerations into the revision of New York's Wildlife Action Plan. Learn more...
Safeguarding Washington's Fish and Wildlife in an Era of Climate Change: A Case Study of Partnerships in Action (2013)
NWF and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have been leading a multi-faceted effort to address climate change in its mission to safeguard the state's wildlife and natural habitats for current and future generations. This report is intended to serve as a case study for ways in which state agencies and NGOs can work together to forward meaningful climate change adaptation strategies, and it highlights several of WDFW and NWF's collective efforts to date, including the successes, lessons learned, and opportunities for moving forward. Learn more...
Virginia's Climate Modeling and Species Vulnerability Assessment: How Climate Data Can Inform Management and Conservation (2013)
Climate change impacts will directly affect wildlife and their habitats as well as exacerbate already existing stressors, and as a result conservation and management goals and strategies will likely need to be reconsidered in light of these changes. To meet this need and provide essential climate information for updating Virginia’s Wildlife Action Plan by 2015 (as required by U.S. Congress), Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and NWF began a project with the Conservation Management Institute (CMI) at Virginia Tech to downscale climate data for Virginia and conduct a vulnerability assessment of a selection of species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) from the Action Plan. This report includes a summary of the findings from the modeling effort and assessment as well as highlights management concerns and implications based on the assessment results. Learn more...
Advancing Landscape-Scale Conservation: An Assessment of Climate Change-Related Challenges, Needs, and Opportunities for the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative (2013)
What do resource managers and conservation practitioners need in order to address the challenges posed by climate change in their work? This assessment begins to answer this question for the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative region, identifying four core needs and a range of science and conservation opportunities in the region. Learn more...
Taken by Storm: How Extreme Rain is Worsening Algal Blooms in Lake Erie (2013)
Heavy rain events due to climate change are compromising the health of Lake Erie. This report provides recommendations on adjusting farming practices and restoring wetlands to help us deal with increasing heavy rain events. Learn more...
Quick Guide to Climate-Smart Conservation (2013)
How should we be carrying out conservation efforts in a warming and increasingly climate-altered world? This Quick Guide summarizes guidance developed by an NWF-led expert workgroup, and draws from a forthcoming full-length publication on the principles and practice of climate-smart conservation. Learn more...
Preparing for and Managing Change: Climate Adaptation for Biodiversity and Ecosystems(2013)
NWF led the development of this peer-reviewed article on climate adaptation as part of a technical input to the U.S. National Climate Assessment focused on biodiversity and ecosystems. Published in a special issue (November 2013) of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment and co-authored by 11 leading scientists, this article provides an introduction and overview to the emerging field of climate change adaptation as it relates to conservation of species and ecosystems. The paper finds that given directional shifts in many climatic variables, adaptation efforts will need to emphasize managing for inevitable ecological changes, not just for the persistence of existing conditions. Learn more...
Practical Guidance for Coastal Climate Smart Conservation Projects in the Northeast: Case Examples for Coastal Impoundments and Living Shorelines (2011)
This coastal climate-smart guidance was developed through funding the NWF received from the Wildlife Conservation Society to provide natural resource managers tools for integrating climate change into on the ground projects. This document, which focuses on the integration of climate change into the design of living shorelines and coastal impoundments, was developed by an expert panel. Learn more...
Restoring the Great Lakes' Coastal Future: Technical Guidance for the Design and Implementation of Climate-Smart Restoration Projects (2011)
This guidance document provides an initial suite of tools and methods to assist in the planning and implementation of climate-smart restoration by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its partners and grantees. The guidance is intended to be a living document that evolves in response to workshops, trainings, on-the-ground projects, and other stakeholder input. Learn more...
Climate Change Effects and Adaptation Approaches in the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative Region: A Compilation of Scientific Literature (August 2011)
New studies on climate change are released so quickly, it can be difficult for resource managers to keep on top of the most current research. As the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NPLCC) begins operation, NWF has produced two reports—one for marine and coastal systems and the other for freshwater and riparian systems—that draw from more than 400 resources to present the first-ever compilation of current scientific understanding of climate change impacts on marine and freshwater ecosystems and adaptation options in the region (extending from Southern Alaska to Northern California). The reports are:
- Climate Change Effects and Adaptation Approaches in Marine and Coastal Ecosystems of the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative Region: A Compilation of Scientific Literature. Phase 1 Draft Final Report. August 2011
Executive Summary and Table of Contents
- Climate Change Effects and Adaptation Approaches in Freshwater Aquatic and Riparian Ecosystems in the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative Region: A Compilation of Scientific Literature. Phase 1 Draft Final Report. August 2011
Executive Summary and Table of Contents
Moving the Conservation Goalposts: A Review of Climate Change Adaptation Literature (2011)
One of the most discussed topics in the adaptation field today is how to set appropriate conservation goals in light of climate change. Moving the Conservation Goalposts: A Review of Climate Change Adaptation Literature, prepared by staff at National Wildlife Federation for the Adaptation 2011 Workshop, reviewed the historic evolution of conservation goals (protecting scenic landscapes, balance of nature, species preservation, biodiversity) and discussed how goals may evolve as the effects of climate change become more pronounced. Highlighted themes included “the death of stationarity,” conservation of important ecological processes, and the change continuum of resistance, resilience and transformation. Learn more...
Scanning the Conservation Horizon: A Guide to Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (2011)
This guidance document, which won the Department of the Interior's Partners in Conservation Award, is the product of a diverse expert working group representing federal and state agencies, universities and non-profit conservation groups. The document focuses on the key components of vulnerability--sensitivity and exposure-- and reviews the best practices for conducting assessments of species, habitats, or ecosystems. Learn more...
Climate Change in the Great Lakes: Advancing the Regional Discussion (2011)
This proceedings document is the product of a climate change adaptation workshop for stakeholders in the Great Lakes region. The goal of the workshop was to give United States federal agencies guidance on how to integrate climate change into agency actions. Additional workshop goals included fostering collaboration between organizations in the Great Lakes and informing on the ground practice. Learn more...
Standing Tall: How Restoring Longleaf Pine Can Help Prepare the Southeast for Global Warming (2010)
This report summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States' Southeastern forests. It argues that restoration and expansion of Longleaf pine forests will help the southeast adapt to the increased temperatures and altered precipitation patterns expected with climate change. Longleaf pine also has the potential to help the southeast withstand natural disasters, sequester carbon for climate change mitigation and play an important role in the local economy. Learn more...
Climate Change Effects on Natural Systems in Washington State (2010)
To understand how climate change is affecting ecosystems and habitats throughout Washington State, National Wildlife Federation and Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife produced four reports compiling literature on the effects of climate change on ecological systems. These reports detail how climate change is altering freshwater systems, marine systems, shrub-steppe and grassland systems, and forest, alpine and western prairie systems. The reports contributed to development of the Washington State Integrated Climate Change Response Strategy and the Pacific Northwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. Learn more...
A New Era for Conservation: Review of Climate Change Adaptation Literature (2009)
This literature review was prepared for the NWF's Adaptation 2009 Workshop and summarizes recent science on climate change adaptation in the context of natural resource management and fish and wildlife conservation. The report reviews basic adaptation principles, as well as broad adaptation principles for forests, grass and shrublands, freshwater systems and coasts and estuaries. Learn more...
As complement to this report and a follow-up from the Adaptation 2009 Workshop, NWF also created a series of factsheets introducing basic adaptation concepts:
Introduction to Climate Change Adaptation
A Quick Guide to Vulnerability Assessment
Adaptation for Grasslands and Shrublands
Adaptation for Forest Ecosystems
Adaptation for Coasts and Estuaries
Adaptation for Freshwater Ecosystems
Virginia's Strategy for Safeguarding Species of Greatest Conservation Need from the Effects of Climate Change
Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan identifies more than 900 species that are being impacted by the loss or degradation of their habitats. In coming decades, climate change will exacerbate and intensify many of the existing threats and will likely result in new sets of impacts and stressors. This guide, which is the product of a collaboration between National Wildlife Federaion, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the Virginia Conservation Network identifies climate change adaptation strategies that can be followed to protect Virginia's species of greatest conservation need from this emerging threat. Learn more...
Setting the Stage: Ideas for Safeguarding Washington's Fish and Wildlife in an Era of Climate Change (2009)
This report is the product of a stakeholder workshop hosted by National Wildlife Federation, our affiliate Washington Wildlife Federation and others to identify adaptation strategies for Washington's fish and wildlife. The report identifies key climate impacts and management strategies for coastal and marine habitats, freshwater, grass and shrublands, and forests as well as offering general principles for facilitating adaptation. Learn more...
Preparing for Sea Change in Florida (2008)
This report, prepared by NWF and other members of the Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition, discusses the anticipated impacts of climate change on Florida's ocean and coast and recommends policy actions at the local, state, regional, and federal level to prepare for these threats. Specific threats addressed in this report include; sea level rise, extreme weather, increased ocean temperature, and acidification. Learn more...
The Gardener's Guide to Global Warming (2007)
This brief guide shows gardeners how they can help mitigate the effects of and adapt to climate change by taking action in their own backyards and communities. Suggested activities include incorporating native plants into gardens, developing rain gardens, and planting roof gardens. Learn more...
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