Maryland State Wildlife Action Plan (2015-2025)

Maryland’s State Wildlife Action Plan identifies conservation priorities for wildlife and their habitats across the state. The 2015 SWAP dedicates an entire chapter to new information on climate change impacts and the vulnerability of Maryland’s key wildlife and habitats.

Maryland's diverse habitats are described in the report’s introductory overview. Maryland is at the southern end of northeastern ecosystems and the northern end of southeastern ecosystems. The diverse landscape includes unique habitats of barrier islands, cypress swamps, and Delmarva bays of the Eastern Shore - to the mountain boreal bogs, caves, and limestone woods of the Appalachian Plateau.

The SWAP describes the process used to select Maryland’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and summarizes the conservation status, distribution, and abundance of all major animal groups that occur in the state. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) - the lead agency for the plan - identified 610 SGCN, which include all state- and federally listed Threatened or Endangered species, rare species, endemic species, declining species, and “responsibility species for which Maryland harbors a significant portion of the overall population.” DNR conducted a vulnerability assessment of SGCN wildlife to climate change using Nature Serve’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index

The Climate Change chapter (Ch.6) describes this vulnerability assessment process, and details the resulting levels of risk and vulnerability to climate for all SGCN and their associated key habitats. The chapter outlines climate impacts broadly for the state and region, and narrows to the primary impacts for SGCN including sea level rise, changes in temperature and precipitation, increased storms and flooding, and changes in phenology. Projected climate impacts are described for each type of ecosystem and species taxa group.   

Chapter 7 contains a comprehensive list of Conservation Actions for both animal groups and their habitats, organized by specific threat category. Climate change is addressed under seven broad goals for adaptation, which as a whole focus on resistance, resilience, and transition with options at finer scales. Some of the adaptation actions, for example, are to:

  • Work with local governments, private citizens, and public land managers to develop and implement adaptation strategies that address climate change impacts in the context of other stressors
  • Enhance integration and coordination of observation systems to improve the detection of biological responses to climate change and sea level rise
  • Develop and refine predictive models for climate change impacts to species/habitats
  • Identify and protect wetland migration corridors


Congress charged each state and territory with developing a State Wildlife Action Plan in 2005, in order to receive funds through the State Wildlife Grants Program. To qualify, the state must identify the species of greatest conservation need, and outline strategic conservation actions for wildlife and habitats. An update to the plan is mandated every ten years, and a number of states have incorporated climate change impacts into the updated versions. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies prepared a report with guidance focused on integrating climate change adaptation planning into SWAPs in 2009 - Voluntary Guidance for States to Incorporate Climate Change into State Wildlife Action Plans and Other Management Plans.

Publication Date: June 2016

Related Organizations:

  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment
  • Plans (other)

States Affected:


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