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Project Summary

In 2009, a three-day conference was held on strategies for adapting watershed ecosystems to climate change in the San Francisco Bay Area. The conference culminated with the development of the North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative (NBCAI), a collaborative effort between regional scientists, conservationists, government officials, and interested stakeholders. The goal of the NBCAI is to promote information exchange and research to develop strategies to effectively adapt the North Bay area to climate change. The NBCAI is divided into three working groups that meet monthly: habitat conservation and stewardship; science, technology, and land management nexus; and policy and funding development.

Project Background

In October 2009, roughly 150 scientists and resource managers from major San Francisco universities, national, state and local agencies, conservation and environmental groups, and other interested stakeholders attended a three-day conference titled “Meeting the Challenge - Strategies for Adapting Watershed Ecosystems to Climate Change.” This conference was convened to bring together regional interests to assess knowledge about climate change impacts within the area, determine possible ways to prepare for these impacts, and identify knowledge gaps in regards to impacts and adaptation strategies. In particular, the conference focused on how to downscale global and regional climate models to a local, ecologically meaningful scale and how to satisfy both economic and ecological interests through land management and conservation.

The conference was targeted towards groups and individuals that were working in restoration and land management. Each day of the three-day conference was given a theme; Day 1 focused on impacts of climate change, Day 2 on response strategies, and Day 3 on actions to implement strategies. Topical lectures were presented and round-table discussions were interspersed throughout the day to promote ingenuity, open communication, and collaboration. The resulting conference proceedings synthesize daily events and results of the conference.

One of the many notable outcomes of the conference was the creation of the North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative (NBCAI). Its goal is to implement some of the climate change adaptation strategies developed during the conference. The NBCAI was broken down into three working groups: habitat conservation and stewardship; science, technology, and land management nexus; and policy and funding development. Each working group meets monthly and provides updates on the NBCAI website.

Project Implementation

Members of the North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative (NBCAI) are natural resource managers, scientific experts, and community leaders dedicated to developing a collaborative approach to reducing the impacts climate change will have on the North San Francisco Bay Area (Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties). They plan to implement effective climate adaptation strategies that sustain natural and human communities of North Bay watersheds by preserving the quantity and quality of natural resources and ecosystem services, and by protecting and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem function.

The actions and outcomes of the NBCAI working groups and the utilization of the San Francisco Bay Area Conservation Commons will be the conduit for implementing this vision. Each of the NBCAI working groups articulate distinct but complementary purposes:

  1. The Science & Technology Working Group creates collaborations that enhance understanding of local climate variability and its effects on natural and agricultural systems, and aims to provide those making land and resource management decisions in the North Bay region the information, methods, and guidance needed to address the challenges of climate change.
  2. The Habitat Conservation & Stewardship Working Group builds collaborations to develop and implement innovative and proven strategies for habitat restoration and management in North Bay ecosystems that promote ecosystem services and biodiversity in a changing climate.
  3. The Policy Working Group connects North Bay decision-makers with informational resources and technical experts to support effective, integrated planning for sustainable use of Sonoma County’s changing natural resources. Each working group meets monthly and posts meeting agendas and notes on the NBCAI website.

Communication between working groups is done through the NBCAI website, by individuals sitting on multiple working groups, and through semi-annual workshops with all three working groups in attendance.

Project Outcomes and Conclusions

One of the goals of the NBCAI was to promote information sharing throughout the North Bay area. To meet this goal, NBCAI has linked with the San Francisco Bay Area Conservation Commons, a data sharing platform to maximize information exchange. NBCAI is in the process of identifying complete, ongoing, and planned research projects related to climate change. NBCAI will initially focus its efforts within Sonoma County in the hopes that effective solutions can later be exported to neighboring counties. NBCAI plans to work with local land owners and governments to promote land connectivity and sustainable restoration.

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Recommended Citation

Feifel, K. (2010). North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative [Case study on a project of the North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, Pepperwood Foundation, and PRBO Conservation Science]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: (Last updated April 2010)