Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Priority Wildlife Species
The Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife and the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment jointly developed a climate-change vulnerability assessment for priority wildlife and plant species and habitats on the Navajo landscape. The priority species and habitats included in this analysis were identified by the entire staff of NNDFW through a structured planning process.
This report provides a summary of projected climate-change impacts for the southwestern United States and Navajo lands as well as an assessment of attributes promoting climate vulnerability and resilience for priority wildlife and plant species. Animal species discussed in this report are the Golden Eagle, Mule Deer, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Lion, and American Black Bear. Plant species discussed in this report include Pinyon Pine, Yucca spp., Mesa Verde Cactus, Navajo Sage, and Salt Cedar (Tamarisk).
This vulnerability assessment provides a conceptual framework for further climate adaptation planning on the Navajo landscape within an adaptive management context. Specific climate adaptation actions that are proposed in this report include: conservation of wildlife movement corridors; “climate smart” reintroductions of Desert Bighorn Sheep; consideration of Golden Eagles in the planning and siting of renewable energy developments; and actions to reduce human conflicts with Black Bears. An example is provided to show how landscape connectivity analyses can be used to identify areas where “on-the-ground” conservation actions can be implemented.