North America’s resource managers and conservation practitioners protect and preserve our lands, waters, and wildlife in the face of land use change, development pressure, and now, climate change. To help ensure our resource managers and conservationists will be able to protect and preserve the places and wildlife we cherish in light of climate change, National Wildlife Federation worked with the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NPLCC) and University of Washington Climate Impacts Group to identify climate change-related challenges, needs, and opportunities for conservation in North America’s coastal temperate rainforests and coasts. The 195 resource managers, conservation practitioners, and researchers we engaged requested four types of support to address the challenges they face: decision-support systems and tools; collaboration and other capacity-building activities; new or different science, data and information; and, science communication and outreach.
These results were obtained by analyzing survey responses, input during thirteen focus groups, and worksheets completed during three workshops by the 195 managers, conservation practitioners, and researchers we engaged.
The geographic focus of the assessment is the NPLCC region, which contains some of the last remaining, intact temperate rainforests in the world as well as coastal waters rich in fish, shellfish, whales, and other marine life. The connection among the region’s marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems is evident in these forests – the same salmon that return from the sea to their natal freshwater habitats also nourish the forest, provide food for iconic species such as grizzly bear, and are critical to the Way of Life for many Tribes, First Nations, and Native Alaskans.
While this assessment identified two technical challenges to meeting practitioner needs (difficulty addressing uncertainty and difficulty identifying, understanding, and using climate change science, data, tools, and/or information), the remaining four challenges identified all address non-technical obstacles to incorporating climate change into participants’ daily work and long range planning. These include social, cultural, institutional, and geographic barriers to collaboration and communication, and the resulting lack of capacity, coordination, and communication. They also include the sense that climate change is not mainstreamed sufficiently into conservation and resource management practice and competes with other issues for the time, attention, and funding of decision makers. This suggests non-technical obstacles to addressing climate change are key impediments to the practitioner’s ability to address climate change in their daily work and long-range planning, a finding that is often overlooked in standard assessments of the physical and ecological effects of climate change.
The majority of needs and opportunities identified in this assessment respond directly to the non-technical challenges described by project participants. They also emphasize cross-ecosystem approaches to conservation delivery and applied science.
Additional key findings from this assessment include:
Assessments of the climate change adaptation needs of conservation, climate change, and resource management professionals are increasing in number and availability. However, a nuanced understanding of these practitioner needs still lags behind similar knowledge of physical and ecological climate change impacts. This assessment contributes to the understanding of challenges, needs, and opportunities associated with advancing climate change adaptation, conservation, and sustainable resource management in at least three ways:
For more information on the report and on NWF’s climate change and conservation work, please see the links below.
Opportunities for managing lands, waters and wildlife in an era of climate change.
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