Public lands and waters in the United States traditionally have been managed using frameworks and objectives that were established under an implicit assumption of stable climatic conditions. However, projected climatic changes render this assumption invalid. Here, we summarize general principles for management adaptations that have emerged from a major literature review. These general principles cover many topics including: (1) how to assess climate impacts to ecosystem processes that are key to management goals; (2) using management practices to support ecosystem resilience; (3) converting barriers that may inhibit management responses into opportunities for successful implementation; and (4) promoting flexible decision making that takes into account challenges of scale and thresholds. To date, the literature on management adaptations to climate change has mostly focused on strategies for bolstering the resilience of ecosystems to persist in their current states. Yet in the longer term, it is anticipated that climate change will push certain ecosystems and species beyond their capacity to recover. When managing to support resilience becomes infeasible, adaptation may require more than simply changing management practices—it may require changing management goals and managing transitions to new ecosystem states. After transitions have occurred, management will again support resilience—this time for a new ecosystem state. Thus, successful management of natural resources in the context of climate change will require recognition on the part of managers and decisions makers of the need to cycle between “managing for resilience” and “managing for change.”
Predictive frameworks of climate change extinction risk generally focus on the magnitude of climate change a species is expected to experience and the potential for that species to track suitable climate. A species’ risk of extinction from climate change will depend, in part, on the magnitude of climate change the species experiences, its exposure. However, exposure is only one component of risk. A species’ risk of extinction will also depend on its intrinsic ability to tolerate changing climate, its sensitivity. We examine exposure and sensitivity individually for two example taxa, terrestrial amphibians and mammals. We examine how these factors are related among species and across regions and how explicit consideration of each component of risk may affect predictions of climate change impacts. We find that species’ sensitivities to climate change are not congruent with their exposures. Many highly sensitive species face low exposure to climate change and many highly exposed species are relatively insensitive. Separating sensitivity from exposure reveals patterns in the causes and drivers of species’ extinction risk that may not be evident solely from predictions of climate change. Our findings emphasise the importance of explicitly including sensitivity and exposure to climate change in assessments of species’ extinction risk.
Climate change is altering ecological systems throughout the world. Managing these systems in a way that ignores climate change will likely fail to meet management objectives. The uncertainty in projected climatechange impacts is one of the greatest challenges facing managers attempting to address global change. In order to select successful management strategies, managers need to understand the uncertainty inherent in projected climate impacts and how these uncertainties affect the outcomes of management activities. Perhaps the most important tool for managing ecological systems in the face of climate change is active adaptive management, in which systems are closely monitored and management strategies are altered to address expected and ongoing changes. Here, we discuss the uncertainty inherent in different types of data on potential climate impacts and explore climate projections and potential management responses at three sites in North America. The Central Valley of California, the headwaters of the Klamath River in Oregon, and the barrier islands and sounds of North Carolina each face a different set of challenges with respect to climate change. Using these three sites, we provide specific examples of how managers are already beginning to address the threat of climate change in the face of varying levels of uncertainty.
Conservation organizations rely on conservation easements for diverse purposes, including protection of species and natural communities, working forests, and open space. This research investigated how perpetual conservation easements incorporated property rights, responsibilities, and options for change over time in land management. We compared 34 conservation easements held by one federal, three state, and four nonprofit organizations in Wisconsin. They incorporated six mechanisms for ongoing land management decision-making: management plans (74 %), modifications to permitted landowner uses with discretionary consent (65 %), amendment clauses (53 %), easement holder rights to conduct land management (50 %), reference to laws or policies as compliance terms (47 %), and conditional use permits (12 %). Easements with purposes to protect species and natural communities had more ecological monitoring rights, organizational control over land management, and mechanisms for change than easements with general open space purposes. Forestry purposes were associated with mechanisms for change but not necessarily with ecological monitoring rights or organizational control over land management. The Natural Resources Conservation Service-Wetland Reserve Program had a particularly consistent approach with high control over land use and some discretion to modify uses through permits.
The forests of northern Wisconsin, a defining feature of the region’s landscape, are expected to undergo numerous changes in response to the changing climate. This document provides a collection of resources designed to help forest managers incorporate climate change considerations into management and devise adaptation tactics. It was developed in northern Wisconsin as part of the Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework project and contains information from assessments, partnership efforts, workshops, and collaborative work between scientists and managers. The four interrelated chapters include: (1) a description of the overarching Climate Change Response Framework, a landscape-scale conservation approach also being expanded to other landscapes; (2) a “menu” of adaptation strategies and approaches that are directly relevant to forests in northern Wisconsin; (3) a workbook process to help incorporate climate change considerations into forest management planning and to assist land managers in developing groundlevel climate adaptation tactics for forest ecosystems; and (4) two illustrations that provide examples of how these resources can be used in real-world situations. The ideas, tools, and resources presented in the different chapters are intended to inform and support the existing decisionmaking processes of multiple organizations with diverse management goals.
In this report, we lay out a framework for understanding potential impacts of climate change on forestry. This framework draws on a review of recommended actions from forest managers and scientists throughout Canada, the US, and Europe. We then present a toolbox of practices that forest managers in the northeastern US might apply to reduce exposure to the immediate and long-term risk from climate change.