About the Toolkit

The Climate Adaptation Toolkit for Marine and Coastal Protected Areas was created to make climate adaptation planning a simple, direct, and feasible process for managers. It contains tools that help evaluate the vulnerabilities of their sites to climate change, identify appropriate adaptation strategies, and learn about those strategies through case studies, reports and other resources. It is focused on the natural resources and habitats within marine and coastal protected areas in North America and the local communities who value those resources. Its creation was guided by marine and coastal protected area managers from Canada, the United States and Mexico, and it has been built within the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE). Its placement within CAKE allows users easy access to a growing body of resources of adaptation information beyond what has been selected here. The Toolkit is a useful guide to getting started with climate adaptation planning, but it is not all encompassing and should not be used as the sole source of information. A prudent practitioner will rely on local experts and local information and use a variety of resources.

 

The Climate Adaptation Ladder of Engagement

Climate change adaptation means preparing for and putting in place actions that help cope with the effects of climate change in an inclusive and equitable manner in order to foster long-term success. Decision-makers must be informed, creative and strategic in setting priorities to achieve the best outcomes. The process begins with an awareness that the climate is changing and affecting many aspects of local ecosystems. Vulnerability assessments identify and rank vulnerabilities to climate change in tandem with other local impacts in a structured way; habitats, species populations, ecosystem services, or just about anything else can be the focus. After vulnerabilities are prioritized, adaptation strategies can be devised based on the protected area management context and the community’s needs. The best long-term outcomes occur when adaptation strategies are adjusted based on periodic monitoring and evaluation. Sharing what has worked and what has not worked, both within your community and more broadly, helps speed up learning and improve adaptation outcomes.  

The Rapid Vulnerability Assessment Tool

The Rapid Vulnerability Assessment Tool was developed to make climate adaptation planning a simple, locally focused, and feasible process for marine protected area managers and to help them better understand habitat vulnerability to climate impacts and the potential for climate-informed management to reduce vulnerability. It guides managers through the climate vulnerability assessment process and contains a user guide, blank worksheets and examples of completed worksheets.

This approach should allow managers to focus on the effects of climate change on their issues of concern, such as habitat management, species conservation and ecosystem services. The tool is simple and accessible so that this analysis and planning can happen relatively quickly and with limited resources.

Adaptation Actions Table and Keywords Search Tools

Once a vulnerability assessment is completed, users can consult the Adaptation Actions Table tool, which includes adaptation actions and options specific to identified vulnerabilities, case studies that show how such actions have been put in place, selected scientific reports, technical guidance, and helpful tools. All of these components can serve as resources for marine and coastal protected area managers seeking adaptation ideas for known climate vulnerabilities. Users can view habitats and natural resources of interest and their possible vulnerabilities in the Adaptation Actions Table, or can search for specific keywords in the Adaptation Actions Search tool.

Foundational Resources

The Foundational Resources are a curated list of tools, documents, and guides that can inform adaptation work. They are organized according to the steps of the Adaptation Ladder of Engagement. These resources are a great starting place and provide a comprehensive, high-level view of climate change adaptation from start to finish. Each step on the Adaptation Ladder features at least one resource each for Canada, the United States and Mexico.

The Experts List

The Experts List is a list of climate adaptation practitioners who can be contacted for questions or guidance. These are experts who have kindly offered a limited amount of free advice on supporting climate vulnerability assessments, adaptation planning and implementation work for marine and coastal protected areas.

What You Need to Get Started

Don’t be daunted by the climate change adaptation planning process. You likely already have more expertise than you realize. Start small and with the information you already have, figure out where there are gaps in your knowledge, learn more and then expand as needed. The most important things are:

  • an interest in learning how climate change is affecting the site being evaluated;
  • knowledge of the site being evaluated (habitat types, basic ecological information, existing threats, management mechanisms, community needs);
  • awareness of relevant climate impacts and access to basic climate information to support your understanding; and
  • a day or two to devote to applying that interest, knowledge and awareness to the planning process using the rapid vulnerability assessment and adaptation actions tools.

Entry and Exit Points

Successful use of the Toolkit depends on understanding where in the climate change adaptation process you are, the kinds of resources contained in the Toolkit, and how far along the Toolkit can take you in your adaptation process. For example, the Toolkit can provide examples of case studies for useful adaptation strategies, but it is up to you to adapt these strategies to best suit your habitats, management context, and community needs, and then put them into action.

Involving Local Communities and Indigenous People

A particularly important feature of the Toolkit is its usefulness for indigenous and local community managers. The Toolkit includes examples relevant to these groups such as resources created to support indigenous and local community engagement in adaptation processes. Indigenous groups are quite active in adaptation and have created guidance for potential collaborators on criteria for good engagement, as well as the application of traditional environmental knowledge in adaptation planning.

Co-Production of Actionable Science

  1. Actionable science is most reliably co-produced by scientists, decision-makers, resource managers and community member stakeholders working in concert.
  2. Start with a decision that needs to be made.
  3. Give priority to processes and outcomes over stand-alone products.
  4. Build connections across disciplines and organizations, and among scientists, decision-makers and other stakeholders.
  5. Evaluate co-production products, processes, and the actionability of the science produced by projects.

Marine and Coastal Protected Area management and decision-making contexts. The managers involved in creating the Toolkit shared that marine and coastal protected areas are particularly complex due to local politics, social dynamics, overlapping jurisdictions, inadequate budgets, and competing regulations and priorities. Multiple uses and mandates must be balanced and holistic adaptation actions are required. Devoted agency staff working with engaged local communities is essential. Tools that help with decision-making, prioritize actions, include cost/benefit information, consider multiple factors and objectively connect solutions to impacts are beneficial.

Marine and Coastal Protected Area management and decision-making contexts

Managers involved in creating the Toolkit shared that marine and coastal protected areas are particularly complex due to local politics, social dynamics, overlapping jurisdictions, inadequate budgets, and competing regulations and priorities. Some key insights included that: multiple uses and mandates must be balanced and and actions must be holistic, inclusive and equitable; success relies on early and continual engagement with local communities; devoted agency staff working with engaged local communities is essential; and tools that help with decision-making, prioritize actions, include cost/benefit information, consider multiple factors and objectively connect solutions to impacts are beneficial.

The Climate Adaptation Toolkit for Marine and Coastal Protected Areas will continue to evolve. Please email recommended additions and suggestions to info@CAKEx.org with "Climate Adaptation Toolkit for Marine and Coastal Protected Areas" in the subject.