Climate Change Adaptation for People and Nature: A Case Study from the U.S. SouthwestBy:
Published: April 01, 2012
In the U.S. Southwest, global climate change, acting in concert with extant stressors such as urbanization and over-allocation of water resources, is changing ecosystems in measureable and sometimes dramatic ways. Twenty-frst century projections indicate accelerating climate change and cascading ecological consequences. Effects observed to date include large-scale forest dieback, large and severe wildfres, and changes in the flow regimes of rivers and streams with attendant changes to riparian and aquatic ecosystems. Rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns are pushing ecosystems across physiological and ecological thresholds, causing widespread mortality and, in some cases, major changes in composition, structure and function. These changes have prompted action by the conservation community to reduce the adverse effects of climate change. The Southwest Climate Change Initiative (SWCCI), a project led by The Nature Conservancy, works with local stakeholders in affected landscapes, reduces adverse impacts on ecological and social systems using scientifc knowledge and practical tools. The Initiative has learned through practical experience that: 1) managers must embrace change and manage for resilience rather than resistance; 2) strong local science-management partnerships are critical to effective adaptation planning and implementation; 3) planners and managers must broaden the scope and accelerate the pace of conservation activities if ecosystem services are to be sustained; 4) adaptation often does not require radically new or different management practices, rather, conservationists already have many of the tools they need; and 5) rapid documentation and widespread communication of methods and findings can build rapid regional capacity for climate change adaptation. Our experience suggests that adaptation efforts can be effective if they are focused at the local scale; employ learning networks; and engage in ecosystem-based adaptation: the sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems so that they continue to provide the services that allow people to thrive in changing environments.
Recommended Document Citation
McCarthy, P. D., (2012). Climate change adaptation for people and nature: A case study from the U.S. Southwest. Advances in Climate Change Research. 3(1), 22-37. doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1248.2012.00022. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/virtual-library/climate-change-adaptation-people-an...