The National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Network? Advancing Understanding of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation



Symposia will be available on-demand on their scheduled date, then again at the conclusion of the conference.

We introduce the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Network (NFWPCAN), a recently established, group of federal, state, tribal, and non-governmental scientists and professionals seeking to facilitate climate change adaptation. The group was born from a desire to enhance communication and awareness of climate adaptation efforts underway in agencies and organizations, to promote conservation of fish, wildlife, and plants as necessary objectives in the broader domain of climate adaptation, and to speak with a collective voice to achieve these ends. The presentations in this symposium provide an overview of progress on climate adaptation, a status report on climate change impacts and reflections on experiences in creating and deploying adaptation plans at the state, federal and tribal levels. We close with our vision for how the Network seeks to facilitate continued progress and a discussion of how to maximize the effectiveness of climate adaptation efforts

Preface: Climate Change Is Happening, But We Have a Strategy, Right?
Robert Newman
Climate change and other human activities have profound influences on ecosystem structure and function in the modern world, raising ongoing concerns about the future of biological diversity and the abundance and distribution of wild species. The scientific and wildlife management communities, among other elements of society, have been analyzing these effects and potential adaptation strategies to mitigate them for years. We are at a point where impacts are being felt, but considerable uncertainty remains about potential futures. Despite the unknowns, climate adaptation work must move forward, but we need to remain alert to emerging knowledge. Because of the scope and scale of climate change, it is critical that adaptation planning be coordinated at all levels, from local, to state and tribal, to national and international efforts. Effective action requires that state and federal agencies that have different missions and priorities must work cooperatively with each other, and in partnership with tribes and with the private and non-governmental sectors. Moreover, with uncertainty about future conditions and a still nascent understanding of the most effective approaches to adaptation, it is imperative to share information and lessons learned. The National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, published in 2012, presented a review and guidelines to shape adaptation efforts. Several later reports provided additional guidance on climate adaptation for wildlife, and major national and international syntheses in the last two years presented updated evidence for climate change and impacts. In this introduction to the symposium, I will briefly review the key elements and recommendations of the 2012 Strategy, and what we have observed since that time about the trajectory of climate change. The presenters that follow will elaborate on wildlife impacts and how wildlife management is responding to our changing world and evolving knowledge.
Can We See It Now? Climate Change Impacts on Species and Ecosystems
Aimee Delach
Climate change is affecting fish, wildlife, and plants in significant and pervasive ways, with clear impacts documented across a range of taxonomic groups, regions, and ecosystem types. In fact, last year’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned that climate change is already one of the top threats to biodiversity, and is the most rapidly accelerating threat. Impacts include both direct and indirect effects of climate change, as species respond to shifts in temperature, precipitation and other climate factors. Effects range from altered behavior and physiological responses, to population-level impacts, to novel ecological relationships as species shift their spatial and temporal distributions. This talk will help to frame the session’s subsequent discussion of climate adaptation for Fish, Wildlife and Plants by providing an overview of recent research on climate change impacts to species and ecosystems.
Can We See It Coming? Advances in Vulnerability Assessment for Wildlife
Laura Thompson
Developing a full understanding of how species may be vulnerable to climate change is critical for identifying and implementing management actions that can minimize harmful effects. Vulnerability assessments that consider exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity, as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), are particularly useful for identifying what species are vulnerable and why. However, many challenges exist with regards to the assessment process, potentially limiting the quality of information that can be obtained. For example, adaptive capacity, which includes the dispersal ability, plasticity, and evolutionary potential of a species, is often only partially assessed or ignored altogether because of difficulties in operationalizing the concept. Additionally, some of the most commonly used techniques for assessing vulnerability have shown to produce inconsistent results, potentially leading to different management decisions depending on the method used. Here, I outline frameworks and approaches that have recently been developed for informing vulnerability of species to climate change with a special emphasis on improving climate adaptation planning.
A New World Requires R.A.D.Ical New Thinking: Emerging Principles of Ecosystem Management in a Changing Climate
Tracy Melvin
Ecosystems are experiencing directional changes that, in many cases, have resulted in transformations to novel systems providing new or different services. This trend is predicted to continue and become more prevalent. These transformations are occurring globally and, therefore, a static view of ecosystem processes may no longer be sufficient for managing fish, wildlife, and other species. Here, I present a framework that encompasses three high-level strategies for fish and wildlife managers dealing with ecosystems susceptible to transformation that was created by a joint working group of AFS-TWS professionals. We provide guidelines for how to contextualize fisheries and wildlife management in an era of ecosystem transformation using the RAD (Resist, Accept, Direct) framework. This framework encompasses a range of considerations, from working to maintain historical norms (Resist), to accepting and adapting to the changes that are occurring (Accept), or working to facilitate the transformation of an ecosystem into one that is different from past conditions, but more likely resilient to future conditions and provides useful services (Direct). Specifically, managers can resist change to maintain existing ecosystem processes, accept transformation when it is not feasible to resist change or when changes are deemed socially acceptable, or direct change to a future ecosystem configuration that would create desirable outcomes even if novel in structure or function. We provide context on when choosing a particular option may be appropriate, addressing issues related to temporal, spatial, and comprehensiveness scales that factor into choice among management strategies for ecosystem transformation. Finally, we suggest how the trichotomy of ecosystem-transformation management strategies can be naturally incorporated into an adaptive-management framework, providing a structured approach to managing in the face of the high uncertainty that pervades changing ecosystems.
What Does Climate Adaptation Look Like? State Climate Adaptation in Action
Christopher Hoving; Amy Derosier
Climate adaptation takes many forms at the state level, and usually occurs in the context of partnerships with other agencies and organizations. Climate adaptation in Michigan is presented in the form of two programs. First, we discuss integrating climate change considerations into deer management in northern Michigan. Because of fundamental uncertainty in climate projections and land use change, we used scenario planning to guide thinking about plausible futures and short-term management actions to prepare for those futures. Second, we discuss integrating the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Climate Adaptation Strategy into the Michigan Wildlife Action Plan. By tracking linkages between specific goals in the national climate plan and the state wildlife action plan, we have been able to show how implementation of the Michigan Wildlife Action Plan furthers implementation of the National Strategy. Climate adaptation is a complicated and often uncertain undertaken, and success hinges on effective partnerships and demonstrating success at many organizational levels.
What Does Climate Adaptation Look Like? Federal Climate Adaptation in Action
Jennifer Wilkening
The southwestern region of the United States is one of the hottest and driest areas of North America and climate change is likely to exacerbate these conditions. The region incorporates numerous ecosystems, contains high levels of biological diversity and endemism, and is home to a unique assemblage of flora and fauna including many species listed as threatened or endangered. It is also one of the fastest growing areas in the US, and rapid urban development and associated anthropogenic activities pose additional stressors on ecosystems and species already threatened by climate change. A large percentage of non-urban lands are under the jurisdiction of federal natural resource management agencies guided by multi-use mandates (eg, BLM, BOR, USFS) or conservation oriented missions (eg, USFWS, NPS). Given the size of the terrain and the extent of financial resources, these agencies have the potential to implement climate adaptation actions at large (eg, landscape level) scales. However, numerous obstacles exist, including competing demands on limited resources, lack of concordance among federal, state and municipal agencies, inconsistent policy directives, and societal resistance from some local factions. Here we summarize climate adaptation planning efforts from federal natural resource managers in the southwest, and offer examples of actions recently started or proposed. To implement effective and sustainable management, inclusion of climate adaptation considerations is likely to become even more important under altered environmental conditions projected for the future. Information presented here describes the ongoing challenges faced by managers and highlights options for dealing with continued change in the southwest region.
Climate Adaptation in Action: A View Into Implementation Efforts Led by Non-Governmental Organizations
Molly S. Cross; Lauren Oakes; Elizabeth Tully
Driven by concerns that conservation investments could literally go up in smoke with more severe wildfires, be drowned by rising seas, or wilt during longer and hotter droughts projected with climate change, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation created a new conservation grantmaking program in 2011. The WCS Climate Adaptation Fund is a competitive grant program that supports on-the-ground projects designed to support the ability of wildlife and ecosystems to adapt to a changing climate. Over the past decade we have awarded more than $19 million to over 100 climate adaptation projects across the United States. Because applications must be submitted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the projects supported by the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund represents a unique snapshot of how NGOs–and their governmental, tribal, and private partners–are actively addressing climate change in their conservation work. We will describe the portfolio of funded projects in terms of their geographic distribution and the representation of ecosystem types, climate change issues being addressed, and general adaptation strategies being implemented. We will also highlight the ways in which conservation practitioners are deviating from standard practices to be more effective in a changing climate, by altering the What (actions), Where (locations), When (urgency and timing), and Why (goals) of their work. Ultimately, we hope that these real-world stories of climate adaptation in action can inspire the next decade of transformative adaptation implementation for wildlife and ecosystems across the United States.
Implementing the National Adaptation Strategy in An Intertribal Agency: The Glifwc Climate Change Program and Tribal Adaptation Menu
Jonathan H. Gilbert; Rob Croll; Hannah Panci; Melonee Montano
Tribes can play a significant role in climate adaptation research, planning and implementation. The Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) is an intertribal natural resources management agency that exercises authority delegated to it by its eleven Ojibwe member tribes. The mission of GLIFWC is to assist our member tribes in the implementation of federally adjudicated treaty rights in a manner that is biologically sound and culturally appropriate. For over thirty-five years GLIFWC has undertaken a comprehensive conservation, natural resource enhancement, law enforcement and public information program designed to support the tribes’ treaty rights and to co-manage ceded territory natural resources and ecosystems that support those rights. GLIFWC began its Climate Change Program in 2014 with the continued goal of integrating science and culture to provide member tribes with a more holistic and culturally appropriate approach to climate change adaptation and ecosystem resilience. One significant product of these efforts was the development of the Tribal Adaptation Menu that strives to develop adaptation strategies that are appropriate for Ojibwe tribes and their cultural mores. This presentation explores the GLIFWC Climate Change Program and crosswalks the goals of the program with the goals of the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy.
The National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Network
Maggie Ernest Johnson
In 2012, the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy (the Strategy) was released with the hope of guiding climate adaptation actions in the natural resource sector. To achieve its goal requires collaboration at a national scale across federal, state, tribal, and private sectors. The National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Network (the Network) is the culmination of nearly a decade of inter-agency cooperation in advancing Strategy goals. Evolving from the federally-led Joint Implementation Working Group, the Network is a more inclusive body focused on increasing communication and coordination across the natural resource sector. The Network works to champion climate adaptation strategies, providing leadership and building capacity of the community. Recently, the Network has reflected on the Strategy and produced a set of recommendations on how to continue to advance climate adaptation for fish and wildlife through the Strategy. This presentation will synthesize the findings of that report, tying together the perspectives of all of the speakers, and illustrating what climate adaptation looks like in a new decade.
Discussion – Let’s Compare Notes! Moving Forward on Climate Adaptation
Maggie Johnson; Robert Newman
The presentations in this symposium review our current understanding of climate change and impacts on wild species and non-domesticated ecosystems, strategies for assessing risk and management options, and how we are planning and implementing climate adaptation efforts. It has been nearly a decade since the production of the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, and numerous additional reviews have been conducted and plans created in the intervening years. The big question is, are we doing enough? If not, what are we not doing that we know we should? What are we doing, but could be doing better or more effectively? What are the principal uncertainties and how should we accommodate those in our planning? And in all things, what are the main obstacles that are impeding progress? What opportunities are there for synergies among management agencies and conservation organizations that ill enhance adaptation outcomes? We offer these questions (or bring your own) to stimulate a continuing (ideally) conversation on how we can move forward to create a better future.

Organizers: Robert Newman, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND; Maggie Johnson, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Washington, DC
Supported by: Climate Change and Wildlife Working Group, Native Peoples’ Wildlife Management Working Group

Location: Virtual Date: October 1, 2020 Time: -