Vegetative Guide Dashboard: Relating Traditional Atoll Agroforestry Recommendations to Predicted Climate and Sea Level Conditions in the Marshall Islands
The 37 islands of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) are low-lying atolls and islands, making the country extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts. The goal of this research was to provide easily accessible decision-making tools for managers, decision-makers and the public to assist in planning for agroforestry in the face of increasing drought and sea level rise (SLR). A team of researchers and climate change adaptation specialists from the RMI and the U.S. was responsible for the effort.
Although the RMI is heavily reliant on imported food, local foods are still important in providing nutrients lacking in imported foods and has cultural importance. The role of plants in stabilizing shorelines is increasingly relevant in the face of SLR and increased storminess. Research was conducted by a team of partners to assess the degree of vulnerability and exposure of agroforestry to climate change impacts, and determine what information was required to improve planning for both seasonal and long-term changes.
The information was used to develop an online “dashboard” with an agroforestry “green” interface with agroforestry information, and a climate “blue” interface with weather, oceanographic and climate data. The “green” dashboard includes indicators for precipitation, wind and waves, and seasonal calendars that indicate the probable best planting times for local crops under drought and non-drought conditions. Other information on crops, planting and cultural aspects is included. Additionally, we collaborated with US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a list of salinity tolerant plants for agriculture and other purposes. Student training was an important part of this work with eight undergraduate and one graduate student participating.