Climate Change Adaptation: A Primer for Assessing Impacts, Advancing Ecosystem-based Adaptation in The Nature Conservancy

Craig Groves, Mark Anderson, Evan Girvetz, Trevor Sandwith, Loring Schwartz, Rebecca Shaw
Posted on: 3/24/2010 - Updated on: 8/21/2023

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The purpose of this primer is to provide the Nature Conservancy's field operating units, regional programs, and appropriate Worldwide Office programs with up-to-date information on important developments inside and outside the Conservancy that could help everyone be more effective in confronting the impacts of climate change and adapting all strategies as needed. 

Most conservation practitioners and managers are just beginning to broach the issue of climate change in the context of their already complex jobs.  In doing so, a plethora of questions often come to mind.  This document is based on questions that are often asked by practitioners starting to grapple with the issue, compiled from a recent informal surveys of managers and scientists in the Conservancy.   It is intended to shed some light on these questions and point readers to existing resources where further guidance may be found. 

More specifically, this primer is intended to:

  • Provide an introduction to climate change and the observed and predicted impacts of these changes on biodiversity.
  • Identify a set of frequently-asked questions that TNC managers, scientists, and project directors need to be able to answer to effectively address the challenge of climate change.
  • Define commonly used terminology in the climate change community.  
  • Outline proposed guidance to incorporate climate change considerations in the Conservancy’s conservation planning methods.
  • Inform staff of tools (e.g., Climate Wizard), web mapping services (e.g., Coastal resilience), data (e.g., general circulation models or GCMs), toolkits and learning networks (e.g., Reef Resilience), and other resources (web sites, reports, scientific papers), and international policy work that are collectively advancing efforts to design, implement, and promote ecosystem-based adaptation practices.
  • Provide an understanding of how and when to conduct impact and vulnerability analyses and 
  • Provide an overview of the wide array of ecosystem-based adaptation strategies that can potentially address climate change impacts.


Groves, C., Anderson, M., Girvetz, E., Sandwith, T., Schwartz, L., Shaw, R., & Enquist, C. (2010). Climate change adaptation: A primer for assessing impacts, advancing ecosystem-based adaptation in the Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy. Retrieved from CAKE: