Santa Cruz Mountains Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Strategies Synthesis Report

Created: 5/24/2021 -

Abstract

The Santa Cruz Mountains ecoregion features iconic habitats and species, such as coastal redwood forests, that are at risk from a number of stresses. Climate change impacts, coupled with non-climate stressors such as population growth and development and invasive species, have important implications for the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which millions of people rely. The goal of the Santa Cruz Mountains Climate Adaptation Project was to improve understanding of and capacity to reduce climate-related vulnerabilities of regionally- important habitats and species. This project convened staff from the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District and members of the Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network to identify regionally-important habitats and species, discuss their vulnerability to climate change, and explore potential adaptation options to reduce vulnerabilities and/or increase resilience of resources to climate change. Project objectives included:

  1. Generate vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning products for habitats and species of interest;

  2. In partnership with Pepperwood Preserve, create customized data products on recent and projected future climate changes and their potential impacts on the region;

  3. Provide a framework and space for participating stakeholders to grapple with climate change impacts and how to manage resources effectively given these impacts; and

  4. Help identify practical applications and next steps for stakeholders to incorporate information into their management plans and programs and on-the-ground projects.

This report synthesizes the results of the major project components – observed and projected climate changes, vulnerability assessment, and adaptation planning. The Project Methods and Workshops section provides an overview of the climate adaptation planning process and the methodology used for the vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning workshops. The Overview of Climate Trends and Projections section presents the observed and projected climate change information for the region, which was generated using the Basin Characterization Model. The Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning Results section summarizes overall trends and findings for habitats and species. More detailed information is available in the habitat and species vulnerability assessment summaries (Appendix A), adaptation tables (Appendix B), and vulnerability-adaptation briefs (Appendix C) at the end of this report.

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EcoAdapt is at the center of climate change adaptation innovation. We provide support, training, and assistance to make conservation and management less vulnerable and more Climate Savvy. Over the past 200 years, great strides have been made in the world of conservation and now all of that is at risk because of climate change. EcoAdapt is working to ensure the success of these past efforts by delivering a framework for climate adaptation.