Adding the Impacts of Climate Change to a Strategic Plan: Big Sur Land Trust

Created: 12/19/2010 - Updated: 3/02/2020


The Big Sur Land Trust has incorporated the potential effects of climate change into its program management and long-term strategic conservation plan. Specifically, the Big Sur Land Trust staff is considering changes in fire regimes, stream flow, and impacts to restoration projects. Currently, the Big Sur Land Trust conserves roughly 5,800 acres of land; they are working to anticipate the impacts climate change will have and preparing management strategies to address these expectations.  


The Big Sur Land Trust was founded in 1978 and has conserved roughly 5,800 acres of land in the geographic areas of Monterey County on the Central Coast of California. With a staff size of 14, the Big Sur Land Trust works with private and public partners to conserve parcels of land. With its community partners, the Big Sur Land Trust targets natural systems that secure wildlife and wildlife corridors and safeguards against flood, fire, and the potential effects of climate change.


The Big Sur Land Trust began incorporating climate change impacts into its practices in 2007. Motivated by ongoing scientific research on the effects climate change may have in California, the land trust began to incorporate climate change informally during planning and staff meetings. Their current strategic conservation plan addresses climate change in a programmatic way in relation to management of their fee lands for projections of increased fire intensity in California, reductions in stream flows for their water rights, and in planning and implementation of restoration on their properties and in projects with other partners especially regarding invasive species, wetlands, and riparian habitats. They are working to anticipate changes in stream flow, fire intensity, and invasive species on their properties and preparing management plans to begin to address these expectations. 

For one restoration project, the Big Sur Land Trust modeled and analyzed the impacts sea level rise would have on their restoration design plan. Their restoration plan for the Lower Carmel River Floodplain includes the removal of small levees and restoration of historic floodplain and riparian and wetland habitat to enhance stream flow and the stream’s biological capacity. They also are including more corridors and connectivity analysis for movement of both habitat and species and not focusing on single species or habitat conservation.

Finally, they are working at the state level to ensure climate adaptation is adequately addressed in the new version of the State Wildlife Action Plan. Staff participate on a statewide committee on adaptation for the update the California’s State Wildlife Action Plan.

Outcomes and Conclusions

Adapting lands to climate change will be a lifelong commitment; the Big Sur Land Trust is striving to incorporate the effects of climate change into all of its programs in order to be better prepared for an uncertain future.


Updated 12/2010

Project File (s)


Feifel, K. (2010). Adding the Impacts of Climate Change to a Strategic Plan: Big Sur Land Trust [Case study on a project of the Big Sur Land Trust]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated December 2010)

Project Contact(s)

For 30 years, the Big Sur Land Trust has worked passionately to protect the natural, recreational, and scenic values of Monterey County. Their mission is to conserve the significant lands and waters of California’s Central Coast for all generations. Working with private and public partners, The Big Sur Land Trust has successfully conserved more than 30,000 acres of shoreline, wildlife habitat, streams, forests, grasslands, rangelands and riparian corridors.


Scale of Project
Community / Local
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Land Use Planning
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Flow patterns
Habitat extent
Species of concern
Climate Type
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Incorporate future conditions into natural resources planning and policies
Enhance migration corridors and other connectivity measures
Capacity Building
Design or reform institutions
Increase organizational capacity
Coordinate planning and management
Governance and Policy
Create new or enhance existing policies or regulations
Effort Stage
In progress