An Assessment of Decision-Making Processes: The Feasibility of Incorporating Climate Change Information into Land Protection Planning

Land protection decisions are long-term, hard to reverse, and resource intensive. Therefore these decisions are important to consider in the context of climate change, because climate change may directly affect the services intended for protection and because parcel selection can exacerbate or ameliorate certain impacts. This research examined the decision- making processes of selected programs that protect land to assess the feasibility of incorporating climate-change impacts into the evaluation of land protection programs. The research focused on a sample of the LandVote database, which documents land protection ballot initiatives that sought to protect wildlife and watersheds. Of this sample, the decision-making frameworks of programs were reviewed. Most programs use quantitative evaluation criteria and a bottom-up process for selecting parcels. Almost all programs have one or more advisory committees. The analysis revealed that strategies that might be useful for incorporating climate change into decision making include new decision-support tools for advisory committees, promulgation of different land protection models, and educational outreach for elected officials. As jurisdictions learn more about possible climate change impacts, certain land protection strategies may become more desirable and feasible as part of a portfolio of adaptation strategies that ameliorate impacts on watersheds and wildlife.

This report examines the decision-making processes of selected programs that protect land to assess the feasibility of incorporating climate-change impacts into the evaluation of land protection programs. The assessment focused on a sample programs with goals to protect wildlife and watersheds. Most programs reviewed use quantitative evaluation criteria and a bottom-up process for selecting parcels. Almost all programs have one or more advisory committees. The analysis revealed several strategies that might be useful for incorporating climate change into decision making, including new decision-support tools for advisory committees, promulgation of different land protection models (e.g., purchase as opposed to transfer of development rights), and educational outreach on the potential use of land protection within a portfolio of adaptation and mitigation strategies. As jurisdictions learn more about possible climate change impacts, certain land protection strategies may become more desirable and feasible as part of a portfolio of adaptation strategies that ameliorate impacts on watersheds and wildlife

Resilience Assessment of Coral Reefs: Rapid Assessment Protocol for Coral Reefs, Focusing on Coral Bleaching and Thermal Stress

The primary focus of this assessment protocol is on the effect of climate change on thermal stress on corals, for which the strong drivers are added into the general model. Many other processes may affect this model and can be incorporated as needed for a particular instance, the resilience framework providing a context to help identify the strong drivers that maintain reef health and minimize vulnerability.

The Future is Now: An Update on Climate Change Science Impacts and Response Options for California

This report presents an interim summary of the latest in climate change science and outlines recommended response options for decision makers in California. This document contains four key messages:

  1. Observed changes in temperature, sea level, precipitation regime, fire frequency, and agricultural and ecological systems reveal that California is already experiencing the measurable effects of climate change.
  2. Scientific confidence in attributing climate change to human activities has increased since the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), which was recently made available by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  3. New scientific studies suggest that the climatic and hydrologic changes already experienced in California are due to human activity.
  4. Unmitigated climate change will lead to grave consequences for California’s economy and ecosystems. Furthermore, it appears that even a scenario that drastically curtails emissions of greenhouse gases may still lead to undesirable trends in warming and sea‐level rise.

A rapid two‐pronged response to climate that which encompasses both mitigation and adaptation has the potential to promote innovative invesment by businesses and protect environmental quality while increasing community preparedness and capacity to cope with change. Conversely, a path of inaction exposes a community’s vulnerability to climate variability and is ultimately costly.

Potential Ecological Consequences of Climate Change in South Florida and the Everglades

Global climate changes are likely to have profound e ects on the Earth’s ecosystems and on our perspectives on ecological conservation. Regional models project varying trends across the United States and even between southern and northern Florida. The purpose of this report is to summarize climate change literature pertinent to south Florida, particularly the Everglades, and to assess potential ecosystem vulnerabilities and the capacity for adaptation to climate change in this important ecosystem.

Effective Conservation Planning Requires Learning and Adaptation

Conservation decisions often involve uncertainty about the underlying ecological and social systems and, in particular, how these systems will respond to the implementation of conservation actions. Future decision making can be improved by learning more about these systems and their responses to past conservation actions, by evaluating the performance of the actions being undertaken. This is a “passive” adaptive management approach to conservation. However, the purposeful and experimental application of different conservation actions can yield greater knowledge through more rapid and targeted learning. This is an “active” adaptive management approach to conservation. Improving future management decisions through learning should be viewed as essential to all conservation plans. Unfortunately, the incorporation of explicit learning processes within the greater framework of conservation planning processes is rare. Here, we provide an overview of factors to consider when attempting the implementation of an adaptive approach to conservation planning, along with ideas for future research.

 

Adapting Landscapes to Climate Change: Examples of Climate-Proof Ecosystem Networks and Priority Adaptation Zones

Summary1. Climate change has been inducing range shifts for many species as they follow their suitable climate space and further shifts are projected. Whether species will be able to colonize regions where climate conditions become suitable, so-called ‘new climate space’, depends on species traits and habitat fragmentation.2. By combining bioclimate envelope models with dispersal models, we identified areas where the spatial cohesion of the ecosystem pattern is expected to be insufficient to allow colonization of new climate space.3.For each of three ecosystem types, three species were selected that showed a shift in suitable climate space and differed in habitat fragmentation sensitivity.4. For the 2020 and 2050 time slices, the amount of climatically suitable habitat in northwest Europe diminished for all studied species. Additionally, significant portions of new suitable habitat could not be colonized because of isolation. Together, this will result in a decline in the amount of suitable habitat protected in Natura 2000 sites.5. We develop several adaptation strategies to combat this problem: (i) link isolated habitat that is within a new suitable climate zone to the nearest climate-proof network; (ii) increase colonizing capacity in the overlap zone, the part of a network that remains suitable in successive time frames; (iii) optimize sustainable networks in climate refugia, the part of a species’ range where the climate remains stable.6. Synthesis and applications. Following the method described in this study, we can identify those sites across Europe where ecosystem patterns are not cohesive enough to accommodate species’ responses to climate change. The best locations for climate corridors where improving connectivity is most urgent and potential gain is highest can then be pinpointed.

Florida Reef Resilience Conference 2008: Resilience Strategies

The final session of the conference involved participants working in small groups to develop ideas that coral reef managers and users could employ to protect the region's reefs from the threats of climate change. Each of six groups discussed a set of strategies and ranked those they considered most useful. This is the total list and rankings of all the strategies.  Conference planners hope this list of strategies, developed by reef managers, anglers, conservationists, dive operators, students and public officials will broaden the discussion about how to protect reefs.
 

Stationarity Is Dead: Whither Water Management?

Systems for management of water throughout the developed world have been designed and operated under the assumption of stationarity. Stationarity--the idea that natural systems fluctuate within an unchanging envelope of variability--is a foundational concept that permeates training and practice in water-resource engineering. It implies that any variable has a time-invariant probability density function, whose properties can be estimated from the instrument record. In view of the magnitude and ubiquity of the hydroclimatic change apparently now under way, however, we assert that stationarity is dead and should no longer serve as a central, default assumption in water-resource risk assessment and planning. Finding a suitable successor is crucial for human adaptation to changing climate.

A Framework for Addressing Rapid Climate Change

Governor Ted Kulongoski appointed the Climate Change Integration Group (CCIG) to develop a framework for making these intelligent and well-informed choices. The Governor charged the CCIG to create a preparation and adaptation strategy for Oregon, implement and monitor mitigation measures from the 2004 Oregon Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Reductions (and devise new ones if appropriate), serve as a clearinghouse for Oregon climate change information, and explore new research possibilities related to climate change for Oregon’s universities.

In this report, the CCIG proposes that Oregon takes steps toward developing a framework that will assist individuals, businesses, and governments to incorporate climate change into their planning processes. This framework is based upon the following underpinnings:

• Business-as-Usual is Not Climate as Usual: A change in the Earth’s climate of unprecedented magnitude is now inevitable, but concerted action to reduce greenhouse gases can help reduce the degree to which our climate changes.

• Our Climate is Changing Faster Than Anticipated: Recent scientific work indicates that the climate is changing faster that had been anticipated even three years ago5, and that we may be approaching a less favorable climate regime to sustain Oregon’s economic health.

• Significant Economic Threat: Research shows that climate change will ultimately produce significant adverse economic impacts on most sectors of Oregon’s economy.

• Significant Human Health Threat: Climate change brings with it significant new health threats, such as new diseases and new disease vectors.

• It is Urgent that We Act Now: A broad scientific consensus tells us that it is urgent that we act immediately to reduce the release of greenhouse gases if we are to keep climate change manageable, and to prepare for the impacts of warming that are now inevitable.

Developing a System of Sustainability Indicators for the Lake Balaton Region

Studied area is the Lake Balaton region, where we had to go back to re-clarify issues as we were trying to find suitable indicators. This initiative showed that developing an indicator system is a fairly demanding process. However, identifying local trends and linking them to policy-making are crucial, because lack of comprehensive information accessible in a timely manner can severely constrain successful adaptation efforts. Although our work represents only an initial step, the indicator system developed in the project will hopefully inspire concerned citizens and organizations in the region to take interest in this issue and continue working on indicators beyond this project.