Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice

Developed by an expert workgroup of federal, state and non-governmental climate adaptation leaders, "Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaption Principles into Practice" examines how climate change is affecting the nation's wildlife and habitats, and addresses how natural resource managers can incorporate climate change considerations into their work. The guide offers practical steps for planning conservation to enhance the resilience of wildlife and ecosystems facing climate change, and offers a “common-sense approach” to adaptation planning and implementation. 

This publication was developed by a workgroup convened by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and included individuals from: Desert Research Institute, EcoAdapt, U.S. EPA, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Geos Institute, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, NOAA, National Park Service, Point Blue Conservation Science, The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Wildlife Conservation Society. 

The guide provides a framework for “climate-smart” conservation and breaks down the process into discrete steps. The steps are delineated in Part II as the Climate-Smart Conservation Cycle along with case studies that demonstrate many of the recommendations. The approach to identifying, evaluating, and selecting adaptation options and strategies in this cycle is thoroughly detailed.

A chapter is dedicated to tracking adaptation effectiveness and ecological response - as monitoring and evaluation underlie several key steps to the climate-smart conservation cycle. Information is provided on the availability and use of data, models and tools including the capacity to inform the conservation planning process. Another chapter is dedicated specifically to using policy to enable adaptation action. 

NWF organized the workgroup and publication, providing summary information and links on their website.  NWF explains that an important goal of the guide is to help practitioners and policy-makers understand what constitutes “good” climate adaptation, and how to recognize those characteristics in existing work, as well as how to design new interventions when necessary. In particular, guide emphasizes four overarching themes in the practice of climate-smart conservation:

  • Act with intentionality through linking actions to impacts
  • Manage for change, not just persistence
  • Reconsider goals, not just strategies
  • Integrate adaptation into existing work


Publication Date: May 2014

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