SS 17-7 - Adaptation in national parks

Tuesday, August 4, 2009: 9:30 PM
Brazos, Albuquerque Convention Center
Jill Baron, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, United States Geological Survey, Fort Collins, CO
Background/Question/Methods The significance of protected natural areas as representatives of naturally functioning ecosystems and refugia for biological diversity increases as more of the surrounding landscapes become altered by human activities.  While past and present climate shape the environmental conditions in national parks or preserves, climate change will redefine these conditions and will continue to do so. Rather than treating climate change as one of many management challenges, it is essential to consider the effects of climate change in all plans and activities. Successful adaptation of natural resources to climate change begins by identifying resources and processes at risk from climate change, defining thresholds and reference conditions, establishing monitoring and assessment programs, and engaging in management actions that increase the adaptive capacity and ecological resilience of these resources. 


As climate change continues, thresholds of resilience will be passed, increasing the importance of addressing uncertainty in planning and management.  Adaptation strategies include scenario planning; adaptive management, including an increased capacity to learn rapidly from management successes and failures; and examining and responding to the multiple scales at which species and processes function.  The latter most certainly will require regional partnerships and a shared vision among multiple organizations. Science-based management principles will become more critical because past experience may not serve as a guide for novel future conditions. Preparing for and adapting to climate change is as much a cultural and intellectual challenge as an ecological challenge.

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