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Climate Change Adaptation is a form of risk management that many forests are implementing to stem the potential serious effects on forest ecosystem resources such as vegetation, fisheries, hydrology, infrastructure, and much more. This fact sheet on climate change adaptation provides a four-page summary.

Collaboration Enhances Adaptation

Climate change has no boundaires. The Climate Change Response Framework (CCRF) is a collaborative, cross-boundary approach among scientists, managers, and landowners to incorporate climate change considerations into natural resource management. Since 2009, the effort has helped bridge the gap between scientific research on climate change impacts and on-the-ground land management.

Similarly, the Adaptation Partners team led by the U.S. Forest Service uses an all-lands approach to adaptation in collaboration with a diversity of other organizations and stakeholders for western forests and grasslands. Building on previous work across large landscapes and multiple federal agencies, Adaptation Partners employ the following strategies:

  1. Conduct an educational effort to ensure a basic understanding of climate change science for agency employees and stakeholders.
  2. Compile a scientific vulnerability assessment that examines the sensitivity of natural resources to climate change.
  3. Develop adaptation strategies in response to the vulnerability assessment.
  4. Implement the vulnerability assessment and adaptation strategies in agency resource planning and management processes.

Forest Adaptation Resources for Land Managers

Adaptation Workbook

The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science created the Adaptation Workbook as an online, interactive version of the practical workbook published in Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers. This year, they have re-launched the site with many new improvements, including: new resources that support urban forestry and agriculture projects (in addition to forest management projects), an updated design for a smoother user experience, and climate impacts information and resources for the entire US. Our goal is to help a wide variety of forest managers and natural resource professionals use the site and connect their land management goals to practical, ready-to-use information on climate change impacts and adaptation actions. Visit the new Adaptation Workbook and give it a try!

The Guidebook to Developing Adaptation Options

The Guidebook to Developing Adaptation Options was developed by the Forest Service to summarize current knowledge on climate change adaptation and produce a suggested outline for adaptation planning. The guidebook suggests a four-step approach:

  1. Review: Read background literature on climate science and projections and ecosystem effects and vulnerabilities. Review project histories and applicable policies and legal documents.
  2. Rank: Assess relative project urgencies based on information from background review. Develop priorities by using win-win, no regrets, triage, and other strategies.
  3. Resolve: Develop objectives and prescribe actions as needed. Implement treatments using project-appropriate approaches, such as resistance, resilience, response, or realignment.
  4. Observe: Monitor responses to treatments; modify project goals, objectives, and methods accordingly. Consider al outcomes as learning opportunities and feed knowledge to future projects.

Connecting Policies to the Field

The National Roadmap for Responding to Climate Change was created to guide forests and grasslands to plan for and adapt to changing climates. It provides a framework that builds upon our short term strategies to create a long term vision of how we face climate change as an agency. Adaptation strategies set forth in the Roadmap include the following:

  1. Building resistance to climate-related stressors such as drought, wildfire, insects, and disease.
  2. Increasing ecosystem resilience by minimizing the severity of climate change impacts, reducing the vulnerability, and/or increasing the adaptive capacity of ecosystem elements.
  3. Facilitating large-scale ecological transitions in response to changing environmental conditions.

Adaptation Examples

See examples of how national forests and grasslands are adapting to climate change through a variety of management strategies and tactics.