Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Climate change: Wilderness's greatest challenge


Nathan L. Stephenson



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Pacific Southwest Research Station


Park Science. 28(3), Winter 2011-2012. 7p


Anthropogenic climatic change can no longer be considered an abstract possibility. It is here, its effects are already evident, and changes are expected to accelerate in coming decades, profoundly altering wilderness ecosystems. At the most fundamental level, wilderness stewards will increasingly be confronted with a trade-off between untrammeled wilderness character and primeval, natural conditions, accompanied by increasing impetus for management intervention. Possible strategic responses to climatic change fall into four broad classes: restraint (do nothing), resilience, resistance (near-term ways of buying time), and realignment (long-term adaptation). Planning responses will be made challenging by the unprecedented and unpredictable nature of future changes; fortunately, robust planning approaches, like scenario planning, are available.


Stephenson, Nathan L.; Millar, Constance I. 2012. Climate change: Wilderness's greatest challenge. Park Science. 28(3), Winter 2011-2012. 7p.

Publication Notes

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.