Redesigning biodiversity conservation projects for climate change: examples from the field

Author(s): Karen A. Poiani, Rebecca L. Goldman, Jennifer Hobson, Jonathan M. Hoekstra, Kara S. Nelson

Source: Biodiversity and Conservation. 20(1): 185-201. | Type: Example / Case Study | Year: 2010

Few conservation projects consider climate impacts or have a process for developing adaptation strategies. To advance climate adaptation for biodiversity conservation, we tested a step-by-step approach to developing adaptation strategies with 20 projects from diverse geographies. Project teams assessed likely climate impacts using historical climate data, future climate predictions, expert input, and scientific literature. They then developed adaptation strategies that considered ecosystems and species of concern, project goals, climate impacts, and indicators of progress. Project teams identified 176 likely climate impacts and developed adaptation strategies to address 42 of these impacts. The most common impacts were to habitat quantity or quality, and to hydrologic regimes. Nearly half of expected impacts were temperature-mediated. Twelve projects indicated that the project focus, either focal ecosystems and species or project boundaries, need to change as a result of considering climate impacts. More than half of the adaptation strategies were resistance strategies aimed at preserving the status quo. The rest aimed to make ecosystems and species more resilient in the face of expected changes. All projects altered strategies in some way, either by adding new actions, or by adjusting existing actions. Habitat restoration and enactment of policies and regulations were the most frequently prescribed, though every adaptation strategy required a unique combination of actions. While the effectiveness of these adaptation strategies remains to be evaluated, the application of consistent guidance has yielded important early lessons about how, when, and how often conservation projects may need to be modified to adapt to climate change.

Preparing for Climate Change – A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments

Author(s): Snover, A.K., L. Whitely Binder, J. Lopez, E. Willmott, J. Kay, D. Howell, J. Simmonds

Source: ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Oakland, CA. | Type: Manual / Guide | Year: 2007

Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation

Source: Conservation Measures Partnership. | Type: Tool / Framework | Year: 2013

The Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation help teams be systematic about planning, implementing, and monitoring their conservation initiatives so they can learn what works, what does not work, and why — and ultimately adapt and improve their efforts.

Mitigation, Adaptation, and the Threat to Biodiversity

Author(s): James S. Paterson, Miguel B. Araujo, Pam M. Berry, Jake M. Piper, Mark D.A. Rounsevel

Source: Conservation Biology. 22(5):1352–1355. | Type: Article | Year: 2008

Long-distance plant dispersal and habitat fragmentation: identifying conservation targets for spatial landscape planning under climate change

Author(s): Richard G. Pearson, Terence P. Dawson

Source: Biological Conservation. 123(3): 389–401. | Type: Article | Year: 2004

Climate change presents a potentially severe threat to biodiversity. Species will be required to disperse rapidly through fragmented landscapes in order to keep pace with the changing climate. An important challenge for conservation is therefore to manage landscapes so as to assist species in tracking the environmental conditions to which they are adapted. Here we develop a stochastic spatially explicit model to simulate plant dispersal across artificial fragmented landscapes. Based on certain assumptions as to the dispersal mechanism, we assess the impact that varying potential for rare long-distance dispersal (LDD) has on the ability to move over landscapes with differing spatial arrangements of suitable habitat (clumped versus fragmented). Simulations demonstrate how the relative importance of landscape structure in determining migration ability may decrease as the potential for LDD increases. Thus, if LDD is the principal mechanism by which rapid large-scale migrations are achieved, strategically planned networks of protected habitat may have a limited impact on rates of large-scale plant migrations. We relate our results to conventional principles for conservation planning and the geometric design of reserves, and demonstrate how reversal of these principles may maximise the potential for conservation under future climates. In particular, we caution against the justification of large-scale corridors on grounds of climate change since migration along corridors by standard dispersal mechanisms is unlikely to keep pace with projected change for many species. An improved understanding of the dispersal mechanisms by which species achieve rapid migrations, and the way that these processes are affected by patterns of landscape fragmentation, will be important to inform future conservation strategies.

Linkages in the Landscape – The Role of Corridos and Connectivity in Wildlife Conservation

Author(s): Andrew F. Bennett

Source: IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. | Type: book | Year: 2003

Life history and spatial traits predict extinction risk due to climate change

Author(s): Richard G. Pearson, Jessica C. Stanton, Kevin T. Shoemaker, Matthew E. Aiello-Lammens, Peter J. Ersts, Ned Horning, Damien A. Fordham, Christopher J. Raxworthy, Hae Yeong Ryu, Jason McNees, and H. Reşit Akçakaya

Source: Nature Climate Change. 4:217–221. | Type: Article | Year: 2014

There is an urgent need to develop effective vulnerability assessments for evaluating the conservation status of species in a changing climate1. Several new assessment approaches have been proposed for evaluating the vulnerability of species to climate change2, 3, 4, 5 based on the expectation that established assessments such as the IUCN Red List6 need revising or superseding in light of the threat that climate change brings. However, although previous studies have identified ecological and life history attributes that characterize declining species or those listed as threatened7, 8, 9, no study so far has undertaken a quantitative analysis of the attributes that cause species to be at high risk of extinction specifically due to climate change. We developed a simulation approach based on generic life history types to show here that extinction risk due to climate change can be predicted using a mixture of spatial and demographic variables that can be measured in the present day without the need for complex forecasting models. Most of the variables we found to be important for predicting extinction risk, including occupied area and population size, are already used in species conservation assessments, indicating that present systems may be better able to identify species vulnerable to climate change than previously thought. Therefore, although climate change brings many new conservation challenges, we find that it may not be fundamentally different from other threats in terms of assessing extinction risks.

Land Management Restrictions and Options for Change in Perpetual Conservation Easements

Author(s): Adena Rissman, Menka Bihari, Christopher Hamilton, Christina Locke, David Lowenstein, Melissa Motew, Jessica Price, Robert Smail

Source: Environmental Management. 52:277–288. | Type: Report | Year: 2013

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.

Managing for Multiple Resources Under Climate Change: National Forests

Author(s): Linda A. Joyce, Geoffrey M. Blate, Steven G. McNulty, Constance I. Millar, Susanne Moser, Ronald P. Neilson, David L. Peterson

Source: Environmental Management (2009) 44:1022–1032 | Type: Article | Year: 2009

This study explores potential adaptation approaches in planning and management that the United States Forest Service might adopt to help achieve its goals and objectives in the face of climate change. Availability of information, vulnerability of ecological and socio-economic systems, and uncertainties associated with climate change, as well as the interacting non-climatic changes, influence selection of the adaptation approach. Resource assessments are opportunities to develop strategic information that could be used to identify and link adaptation strategies across planning levels. Within a National Forest, planning must incorporate the opportunity to identify vulnerabilities to climate change as well as incorporate approaches that allow management adjustments as the effects of climate change become apparent. The nature of environmental variability, the inevitability of novelty and surprise, and the range of management objectives and situations across the National Forest System implies that no single approach will fit all situations. A toolbox of management options would include practices focused on forestalling climate change effects by building resistance and resilience into current ecosystems, and on managing for change by enabling plants, animals, and ecosystems to adapt to climate change. Better and more widespread implementation of already known practices that reduce the impact of existing stressors represents an important “no regrets” strategy. These management opportunities will require agency consideration of its adaptive capacity, and ways to overcome potential barriers to these adaptation options.

Implementing Climate Change Adaptation – Lessons Learned from Ten Examples

Source: Headwaters Economics. Bozeman, MT. | Type: Example / Case Study | Year: 2012

This paper presents ten examples of cities and counties around the country. Each highlights the key lessons learned in the process of moving from planning to implementation on climate adaptation. The purpose of this report is to inform and inspire other communities in their efforts to advance climate adaptation. We also hope this report will be useful to organizations dedicated to helping communities adapt to climate change.