Regional Municipal Planning Strategy (2014)

The Regional Plan, as adopted in 2006, emphasized a balanced approach to development and established targets for directing housing growth over the life of the Regional Plan (2006-2031). Twenty-five percent of the growth was to be directed to the Regional Centre (Peninsula Halifax and Dartmouth between the Circumferential Highway and Halifax Harbour); fifty percent directed to the urban communities (communities serviced with publicly managed water and wastewater services outside the Regional Centre) and the remaining twenty-five percent to the rural areas.

In preparing the first five year review of the Plan, the Stantec Quantifying Study was commissioned to assess the public, private and social costs and benefits of various growth scenarios from 2011 to 2031. That Study also considered how these scenarios may impact our environment, health and social well-being and benchmarked HRM with other Canadian and US municipalities to assist in this evaluation. 

From the Ground Up: The State of the States on Climate Adaptation for Agriculture

This paper analyzes how state climate adaptation plans treat agriculture and food systems, and identifies challenges and best practices and lift-up innovative approaches for the future. To conduct the analysis, every state was catalouged with a climate adaptation plan that makes concrete recommendations for agricultural adaptation. A list of every agriculture-related policy proposal was created in each state plan and sorted those strategies into ten categories based on our best interpretation of their goals. Eight strategies identified by the USDA in the 2016 report “Adaptation Resources for Agriculture,” were pulled. Two additional categories we identified as important were added, covering financial support and technical assistance.

Key Findings

A few important trends stand out in state climate adaptation plans.

  1. Few states are considering ambitious changes to their agricultural systems, such as changing crop types to fit the altered climate or using new approaches to animal production.
  2. Locally focused adaptation strategies with less daunting scopes, such as those focused on soil and water quality, have gained traction.
  3. Strategies designed to support farmers with technical and financial support for climate adaptation are well-represented.
  4. Very little attention is given to biodiversity, how to “manage farms and fields as part of a larger landscape,” a potentially powerful tool in the face of climate change.
  5. Investing in agriculture-related infrastructure as part of climate adaptation is similarly under-represented.
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Position Title: 
Resilience Planning Assistant at NC SeaGrant

A guide to selecting ecosystem service models for decision-making Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa

 

A guide to selecting ecosystem service models for decision-making

Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa

Ecosystems are essential to human life, livelihoods and wellbeing. Many national policies and international agreements include goals to protect ecosystem services. A new guide – commissioned by the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme and written by Professor James Bullock of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and Helen Ding of World Resources Institute (WRI) – helps readers to assess how ecosystem service models could support policy-making in their countries.

Ecosystem protection features in several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – particularly those on terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity, and the marine environment. Some countries’ national climate action plans, submitted under the 2015 Paris Agreement, include ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation. To date, 127 countries have joined the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an international body to strengthen collaboration between scientific experts and policy-makers on biodiversity, long-term human wellbeing, and sustainable development. 

In order to manage ecosystem services sustainably, decision-makers need to understand the extent and condition of ecosystems. They must be able to predict the impacts of alternative policies or management decisions on the environment.

Frequently, there is not enough measured data on ecosystem services. In these situations, models can provide useful information based on assumptions from similar places. Modeling is especially useful in developing countries, where measured data may be scarce.

 

The guide is particularly suited to advisors and technical managers who are supporting policy-makers. It is based on results from the 2013–16 WISER project, which assessed several ecosystem service modeling tools in sub-Saharan Africa. Policy advisors from Malawi and Uganda contributed actively to the guide’s development.

The guide includes:

-          Advice on how models can inform different types of policy and programme decisions

-          Guidance on how to consider technical capacity and resource needs, when selecting an appropriate model

-          Case studies that draw on current policy issues and modeling experience in Africa.

The ESPA programme is funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

 

Resilience in Land Management Planning: Policy Mandates, Approaches, and Resources

Climate change adaptation presents a challenge for federal land management agencies in the United States. Increasingly, these agencies are turning to the concept of resilience to guide planning for an uncertain future. Resilience refers to the ability of a system to withstand disturbances and maintain its general structure and function. However, the concept can be challenging to operationalize, and a range of types of resilience and definitions for the concept exist. Nonetheless, the concept of resilience can aid in planning by emphasizing uncertainty, nonlinearity, adaptability, and consideration of cross-scale linkages. It also requires accepting the inevitability of ecological disturbances, including wildland fires. This working paper aims to provide background and context to support individuals and groups working to implement resilience in various land management planning contexts and we summarize various frameworks for planning for resilience.

Three common types of resilience exist. Engineering resilience is a function of the speed and ease with which a system returns to its equilibrium state following a disturbance. Ecological or social resilience is defined as “the ability of an ecological system or social system to withstand disturbance while still maintaining necessary functions.” Social-ecological resilience is defined as “[the] capacity of an integrated social-ecological system to adapt to disturbance” (Bone et al. 2016). To date, ecological resilience has been the form used most often in federal agency planning.

Various agency policies mandate or encourage the use of resilience in planning. For example, various strategic documents from the U.S. Forest Service emphasize resilience as a key element of climate change adaptation. The concept makes up a component of ecological integrity, a central element of the U.S. Forest Service’s land management planning regulations promulgated in 2012. Accordingly, many planning units working on revising their land management plans are using the concept. The concept also plays a central role in the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. Other agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service are all embracing the concept in adaptation efforts and approaches to responding to disturbances. U.S. Forest Service researchers have developed two cyclical approaches to planning for resilience. The Resilience Alliance has produced a workbook that offers a useful approach to planning for social-ecological resilience, and various other resources, approaches, and data sources are available for a range of contexts, including human communities and specific places.

Based on our review of these mandates and resources, we propose suggestions for how to plan for resilience. Partnerships drawing on scientists, managers across different agencies, and local communities play an important role in planning and executing resilience actions. Breaking up resilience planning into specific steps or phases makes the challenge less daunting and more understandable. These step-bystep processes are cyclical and iterative. It is important to monitor the system and revisit earlier assumptions to modify management activities accordingly. These processes should seek to define the system in question, identify stressors, and use climate projections to understand future conditions. Subsequent working papers will provide more specific recommendations about how to incorporate resilience into land management planning frameworks.

Hawaiian Islands Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Synthesis

The goal of the Hawaiian Islands Climate Synthesis Project was to develop comprehensive, science-based syntheses of current and projected future climate change impacts on, and adaptation options for, terrestrial and freshwater resources within the main Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian Islands Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Synthesis presents the results of the major project components - climate impacts assessment, vulnerability assessment, and adaptation planning - and provides an inter-island analysis of the findings. More detailed information is available in the individual vulnerability assessment syntheses and adaptation summaries, and should be referred to for decision support, which can be found at http://bit.ly/HawaiiClimate.

Securing the Future of Cultural Heritage by Identifying Barriers to and Strategizing Solutions for Preservation under Changing Climate Conditions

Climate change challenges cultural heritage management and preservation. Understanding the barriers that can impede preservation is of paramount importance, as is developing solutions that facilitate the planning and management of vulnerable cultural resources. Using online survey research, we elicited the opinions of diverse experts across southeastern United States, a region with cultural resources that are particularly vulnerable to flooding and erosion from storms and sea level rise. We asked experts to identify the greatest challenges facing cultural heritage policy and practice from coastal climate change threats, and to identify strategies and information needs to overcome those challenges. Using content analysis, we identified institutional, technical and financial barriers and needs. Findings revealed that the most salient barriers included the lack of processes and preservation guidelines for planning and implementing climate adaptation actions, as well as inadequate funding and limited knowledge about the intersection of climate change and cultural heritage. Experts perceived that principal needs to overcome identified barriers included increased research on climate adaptation strategies and impacts to cultural heritage characteristics from adaptation, as well as collaboration among diverse multi-level actors. This study can be used to set cultural heritage policy and research agendas at local, state, regional and national scales.

Position Title: 
Environment and Realty Program Manager