New Protection Against Climate Change for Ecosystems

Researchers have discovered a new process that enables natural resource managers to better conserve particular wildlife, plants, and ecosystems as the climate continues to change.

The Adaptation for Conservation Targets (ACT) framework is a practical approach to assessing how future changes in air and water temperatures, precipitation, stream flows, snowpack, and other environmental conditions might affect natural resources. ACT enables scientists and managers to work hand-in-hand to consider how management actions may need to be adjusted to address those impacts.

The ACT framework was tested during a series of workshops at four southwestern United States landscapes that brought together 109 natural resource managers, scientists, and conservation practitioners from 44 local, state, tribal and federal agencies, and organizations. One example comes from the Bear River basin in Utah, where workshop participants looked at how warmer air and water temperatures and decreased summer stream flow might affect native Bonneville cutthroat trout habitat and populations.

“The ACT process helps workshop participants move beyond the paralysis many feel when tackling what is a new or even intimidating topic by creating a step-by-step process for considering climate change that draws on familiar conservation planning tools,” said WCS Conservation Scientist, Dr. Molly Cross. “By combining traditional conservation planning with an assessment of climate change impacts that considers multiple future scenarios, ACT helps practitioners lay out how conservation goals and actions may need to be modified to account for climate change.”

To read more about the entire ACT planning process, please click here.

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