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Adapting to Climate Change: Guidance for protected area managers and planners

John E. Gross, Stephen Woodley, Leigh A. Welling, and James E.M. Watson
Created: 9/19/2018 - Updated: 1/03/2019

Abstract

Climate change response can be divided into “mitigation” (actions that reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere) and “adaptation” (an adjustment by human or natural systems to the changing climate). Protected area managers must do all that they can to enhance the ability of natural systems to capture and store carbon and to reduce emissions from protected area operations. But the primary focus of these guidelines is on adaptation. The world’s climate is changing rapidly and protected areas are an increasingly important component of national and international climate change adaptation strategies. These guidelines articulate essential elements for adaptation planning and implementation, and it describes additional resources that site managers can use right away. The chapters and associated best practices generally follow these steps. 

Step 1: Build a Strong Foundation that involves assembling available knowledge and resources, planning for change, and developing a long-term capacity for informed, flexible management.

Step 2: Assess Vulnerability and Risk means undertaking quantitative or qualitative analyses to determine which species, ecosystems, and other values are most vulnerable to changing conditions, and identifying the key vulnerabilities that pose the greatest risk to achieving conservation goals.

Step 3: Identify and Select Adaptation Options emphasizes the need for structured approaches to recognize and prioritize strategic and tactical actions to achieve short and long term adaptation goals in protected areas.

Step 4: Implement Actions is where the protected area takes action based on all of the previous analysis and deliberation.

Step 5: Monitor and Adjust, the protected area managers and their staff measure indicators of success and failure and use that information to evaluate and recalibrate their decisions. 

Keywords

Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Air temperature
Temperature
Biodiversity
Culture / communities
Diseases or parasites
Economics
Erosion
Fire
Fishery harvest
Flooding
Flow patterns
Growing season
Habitat extent
Infrastructure damage
Invasive / non-native species, pests
Lake level
Landslides
Ocean acidification
Oxygen concentrations (hypoxia)
Permafrost
Phenological shifts
Precipitation
Public health risks
Public safety threats
Range shifts
Salinization / Saltwater intrusion
Sea level rise
Snowpack
Species of concern
Storms or extreme weather events
Tourism
Water quality
Water supply
Water temperature
Other

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