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Climate Change Adaptation Manual - Evidence to Support Nature Conservation in a Changing Climate

Natural England and RSPB
Created: 7/01/2014 - Updated: 8/09/2019


The need for climate change adaptation has become increasingly widely recognised in the last 20 years. Nature conservation was one of the first sectors to identify the need and to start developing approaches. To date, much of the focus has been on identifying general principles. This was an essential first step, but adaptation needs to be embedded into decision-making in specific places and circumstances. There can be a big gap between general principles and specific applications. Effective adaptation requires local knowledge and experience, combined with relevant scientific information and an understanding of practical options. It will be assisted by sharing good practice and evidence of what techniques have worked in particular places and situations.

This Adaptation Manual is a resource to support practical and pragmatic decision-making, by bringing together recent science, experience and case studies, and is intended to be an accessible entry point to a range of available resources and tools. It is not intended to be read from cover to cover. Different elements stand alone and can be read individually. We anticipate that the information contained here will be useful to a variety of people, including managers of nature reserves and other protected sites, conservation and land management advisors, and environmental consultants. The intended audience is those who are involved in the management of land for conservation and amenity, and includes staff of local and national government, statutory agencies and NGOs.

Much of the work to date on adaptation in the natural environment has been centred on biodiversity, which is the focus for this first edition of the manual, particularly habitat management. However, this is a fast moving field and we anticipate the manual will be a resource that develops and grows over time. Subsequent revisions are intended to deal more thoroughly with species, and how managing the natural environment can help society to adapt to climate change. Other future topics include landscape character, geodiversity, and recreation. We encourage feedback and comment. The manual is designed to support practical adaptation, and the lessons learnt and experience gained will ideally be fed back as case studies to assist others.

Published On

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Air temperature
Diseases or parasites
Growing season
Habitat extent
Invasive / non-native species, pests
Phenological shifts
Range shifts
Sea level rise
Species of concern
Storms or extreme weather events
Water quality
Water supply
Water temperature
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Incorporate climate-smart guidelines into restoration
Incorporate future conditions into natural resources planning and policies
Incorporate climate change into harvest/take policies
Incorporate climate change into critical habitat rules / species recovery plans
Incorporate climate change into threatened / endangered species designations
Incorporate climate change into environmental impact statement (EIS) requirements
Enhance migration corridors and other connectivity measures
Create new refugia / Increase size and amount of protected areas
Design protected areas or lands to allow inland, altitudinal, or latitudinal movement
Reduce local climate or related change
Reduce non-climate stressors
Capacity Building
Governance and Policy