Incorporating Climate Change into Landscape Connectivity Plans

Created: 2/21/2010 - Updated: 3/02/2020


The Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group (WWHCWG) is developing a plan that will identify opportunities and priorities for conserving and restoring wildlife habitat connectivity throughout Washington State. The climate change subgroup of the Working Group is endeavoring to develop rigorous, science-based methodologies to incorporate the effects of climate change into this plan. The climate change subgroup began their analysis in early 2010 and results will be disseminated via reports, peer-reviewed publications, and a website (


Increasing habitat connectivity is an important adaptation strategy in the face of climate change, which is expected to cause habitat fragmentation and biodiversity loss. The WWHCWG is developing a plan to identify the best places to enhance habitat connectivity in order to help protect wildlife. The WWHCWG is co-led by the Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Transportation. Others involved include representatives from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Conservation Northwest, Washington Biodiversity Council, Arid Lands Initiative, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Colville Tribe, Defenders of Wildlife, Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe, Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society, and Washington State Parks, among others.

The climate change subgroup of the WWHCWG is developing methodologies for integrating climate change into this plan. GIS analysis, which may incorporate downscaled climate models and climate envelope models, is being used to identify connectivity investments most likely to continue to provide connectivity in future climates and facilitate climate-driven shifts in species ranges. Results are expected to be published in reports, peer-reviewed publications, and a website.


Work by the climate change subgroup to the WWHCWG is being supported in part by a grant from the Wilburforce Foundation and by the government. Some members of the WWHCWG interested in climate change issues sought outside funding to help support the sub-group’s work. The project was motivated by a general concern within the WWHCWG in regards to climate change.

Outcomes and Conclusions

The full working group released a statewide analysis of connectivity in December 2010. The climate change subgroup is conducting an analysis to identify habitats that will support connectivity and accommodate range shifts caused by climate change.


Information gathered from interviews and online resources. Last updated on 2/21/11.


Feifel, K. (2010). Incorporating Climate Change into Landscape Connectivity Plans [Case study on a project of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Department of Transportation]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated February 2011)

Project Contact(s)

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources. The department operates under a dual mandate from the Washington Legislature to:

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is the steward of a large and robust transportation system, and is responsible for ensuring that people and goods move safely and efficiently. In addition to building, maintaining, and operating the state highway system, WSDOT is responsible for the state ferry system, and works in partnership with others to maintain and improve local roads, railroads, airports, and multi-modal alternatives to driving.


Scale of Project
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Transportation / Infrastructure
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Habitat extent
Range shifts
Climate Type
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Enhance migration corridors and other connectivity measures
Capacity Building
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Effort Stage
In progress