Monday, August 3, 2009 - 1:50 PM

OOS 6-2: Planning for natural resource conservation and management as climate changes: Overcoming the paralysis of uncertainty

Molly S. Cross, Wildlife Conservation Society


As natural resource management agencies and conservation organizations seek guidance on preparing for rapid climate change, a growing number of general recommendations are emerging to ensure the long-term viability of species and ecological systems across large geographic scales. Conservation practitioners and agency resource managers have expressed a need for tools to transform this growing menu of recommendations into feasible site- and target-specific strategies for action. I will present a participatory and iterative climate change adaptation framework designed to identify adaptation strategies for particular landscapes, species, or ecosystems. The framework addresses the uncertainty and complexity of understanding climate change impacts, while also considering the specific climate, ecological, social, and political contexts that motivate management decisions in the focal system.  


I will demonstrate the application of the framework to two components of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho (USA) – river flows in the upper Yellowstone River and the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis). I will also report on a workshop with Montana fish and wildlife agency managers aimed at using the framework to develop climate change adaptation strategies for two ecosystems in the state. The framework provides an efficient and structured approach for interpreting new information, taking action in the face of uncertainty, and proactively responding to the challenges posed by climate change.