14 Solutions to Problems Climate Change Poses for Conservation - Examples from the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation created the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund to “incentivize new and innovative efforts to help wildlife and ecosystems respond to climate change.” As of 2016, the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund awarded more than $12 million to 66 adaptation projects across the United States. This report presents 14 climate change adaptation strategies or “solutions” for sustaining wildlife populations and ecosystems, with examples of projects supported by the Climate Adaptation Fund that exemplify each solution. 

The 14 Solutions address a number of significant climate impacts for wildlife including: Less Water and Worse Droughts, Bigger Floods, Bigger and Hotter Fires, Rising Seas, Direct Effects on Species, and Human Responses. The solutions for each of these impacts are illustrated with brief summaries of effectively implemented projects.

The solutions or adaptive strategies are:

1: Restore the natural water storage capacity of ecosystems

2: Reconnect rivers and floodplains to recharge groundwater aquifers

3: Adjust water management to reduce flooding risks of the future

4: Design road crossings so that stream functions are unimpeded during flood events

5: Reduce the likelihood of unnaturally large and severe fires

6: Reduce the risk of undesirable ecosystem transformations after intense fires

7: Reduce the risk of post-fire erosion and flash flood events

8: Install “living shorelines” to slow inundation and raise the elevation of coastal ecosystems

9: Enable the in-land migration of coastal ecosystems

10: Position ecosystems to thrive under future climate conditions

11: Protect or restore areas likely to remain or become suitable as climate changes

12: Help species track suitable climate and habitat conditions

13: Protect lands that will be important to wildlife as land uses shift in response to climate change

14: Proactively address water conflicts among diverse users as water sources decline

For example, to illustrate the Living shorelines strategy, (Solution 8), the paper describes oyster reefs constructed in South Carolina to reduce wave action:

In South Carolina, The Nature Conservancy is building oyster reefs adjacent to important coastal marshes to reduce the energy of boat wakes and tidal flows, which erode the marshes. In addition to buffering the marshes from erosion, the oyster reefs promote sediment accumulation, helping to raise the elevation of marshes to protect them from rising sea levels. The project’s high visibility just outside of Charleston encourages greater public support for natural approaches to stabilizing shorelines that provide benefits to both people and nature.


Publication Date: 2017

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