Tribal Climate Change Adaptation Options: A Review of Scientific Literature

From the Introduction:

Tribal Nations will likely be one of the most heavily impacted populations in North America by Climate Change due to several factors including an intimate, long-standing relationship with the land, limited and relatively non-diverse economies, poor energy security and transportation options, and the practice of subsistence activities in many communities. These characteristics of Tribal Nations make them more vulnerable or sensitive to the impacts of Climate Change. The most likely tribal resources effected by Climate Change are ecosystems, natural resource, human health and energy production and use. The purpose of this report is to summarize information in published scientific literature that identify physical changes in the climate due to Climate Change, to identify vulnerabilities of tribal resources to Climate Change, and to identify adaptation options that tribes in Region 10 could implement to minimize the possible adverse effects to their life style and well being. This report is intended to be a ‘living’ document and will be updated and revised, as needed, in response to the needs of the tribes, and to incorporate the most recent information on Climate Change adaptation in the scientific literature.

The impacts of Climate Change, as predicted by various models, includes increasing air temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, increasing severity of drought in arid climates, more frequent extreme weather events, earlier snow melt in the mountains, and rising ocean levels. These climatic impacts have the potential to adversely affect the biodiversity and function of ecosystems, availability and quality of natural resources, productivity of agriculture and forestry, human health, and societal infrastructure. A dynamic interaction exists between people and ecosystems and natural resources. People both directly and indirectly drive change in ecosystems and natural resources, and the changes in ecosystems and natural resources cause changes in human well-being. The effects of Climate Change are already being experienced in various regions of the world by various people, and the effects of Climate Change are predicted to increase as concentrations of man-made greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere continue to increase. Adaptation is widely recognized in the literature as a tool to minimize the effects of Climate Change on ecosystems and natural resource

Ecosystem-Based Adaptation: A Natural Response To Climate Change

Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) integrates the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall strategy to help people adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. It includes the sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems to provide services that help people adapt to both current climate variability, and climate change. Ecosystem-based Adaptation contributes to reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience to both climate and non-climate risks and provides multiple benefits to society and the environment.

Many recent climate change adaptation initiatives have focused on the use of technologies and the design of climateresilient infrastructure. However, there is growing recognition of the role healthy ecosystems can play in helping people adapt to climate change. Healthy ecosystems provide drinking water, habitat, shelter, food, raw materials, genetic materials, a barrier against disasters, a source of natural resources, and many other ecosystem services on which people depend for their livelihoods. As natural buffers, ecosystems are often cheaper to maintain, and often more effective, than physical engineering structures, such as dykes or concrete walls. Ecosystem-based Adaptation, therefore, offers a means of adaptation that is readily available to the rural poor; it can be readily integrated into community-based adaptation and addresses many of the concerns and priorities identified by the most vulnerable countries and people. In addition, healthy ecosystems, such as forests, wetlands, mangroves, and coral reefs, have a greater potential to adapt to climate change themselves, and recover more easily from extreme weather events.

Ecosystem-based Adaptation involves a wide range of ecosystem management activities to increase resilience and reduce the vulnerability of people and the environment to climate change. These activities include:

  • Sustainable water management, where river basins, aquifers, flood plains, and their associated vegetation are managed to provide water storage and flood regulation services;
  • Disaster risk reduction, where restoration of coastal habitats such as mangroves can be a particularly effective measure against storm-surges, saline intrusion and coastal erosion;
  • Sustainable management of grasslands and rangelands, to enhance pastoral livelihoods and increase resilience to drought and flooding;
  • Establishment of diverse agricultural systems, where using indigenous knowledge of specific crop and livestock varieties, maintaining genetic diversity of crops and livestock, and conserving diverse agricultural landscapes secures food provision in changing local climatic conditions;
  • Strategic management of shrublands and forests to limit the frequency and size of uncontrolled forest fires; and
  • Establishing and effectively managing protected area systems to ensure the continued delivery of ecosystem services that increase resilience to climate change.

This report presents 10 examples of Ecosystem-based Adaptation taking place in both developing and developed countries, at national, regional, and local scales, and in marine, terrestrial, and freshwater environments. The case studies demonstrate how Ecosystem-based Adaptation is being implemented at project and programmatic levels.

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.