Assessment Tool: Scanning the Conservation Horizon A Guide to Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment - NWF
Award Winning Tool
This vulnerability assessment guide won an award from the Department of Interior. It is a product of an expert workgoup on climate change vulnerability assessment convened by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Provides seven case studies.
Scanning the Conservation Horizonis designed to help fish and wildlife professionals and other conservation practitioners understand how vulnerability assessments can help them in responding to the challenges of managing natural resources in an era of rapid climate change.
Developed by a collaborative working group of conservation professionals and conservation scientists (see below), the document provides guidance for agencies and organizations to consider in developing and conducting vulnerability assessments in support of their conservation and management missions and as a tool in the development of climate change adaptation strategies.
The guidance document has three primary objectives:
• Provide an overview of the general principles of climate change vulnerability as it relates to species, habitats, and ecosystems
• Describe the various approaches available for assessing the components of vulnerability and address key issues and considerations related to these tools and practices
• Highlight examples of climate change vulnerability assessment in practice among government agencies, non-governmental organizations, acadademic institutions, and other stakeholders.
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION AND TEACHING MATERIALS
TEACHING NOTES / CONTEXT FOR USE
There is no single right approach to vulnerability assessment that applies to all situations. Rather, the design and execution of an assessment must be based on a firm understanding of the user needs, the decision processes into which it will feed, and the availability of resources such as time, money, data, and expertise. Scanning the Conservation Horizon is intended to provide resource managers and conservationists with much-needed guidance for understanding the basic concepts behind vulnerability assessments, and for identifying which approaches may best serve their specific needs as together we rise to the challenge of conserving our fish and wildlife resources in an era of rapid climate change.
Vulnerability to climate change, as the term is used in this guide, has three principal components: sensitivity, exposure, and adaptive capacity.
Vulnerability assessments are, therefore, structured around assessments of these distinct components. Sensitivity generally refers to innate characteristics of a species or system and considers tolerance to changes in such things as temperature, precipitation, fire regimes, or other key processes. Exposure, in contrast, refers to extrinsic factors, focusing on the character, magnitude, and rate of change the species or system is likely to experience. Adaptive capacity addresses the ability of a species or system to accommodate or cope with climate impacts with minimal disruption.Although climate change vulnerability assessments can be applied to human infrastructure as well as natural systems, our focus here is on approaches designed to support wildlife conservation and ecosystem-based adaptation. Such assessments can target various levels of ecological or biological diversity. Because of their relevance to most wildlife management and conservation practitioners, this guidance focuses on assessments of species, habitats, and ecosystems,detailing approaches for assessing sensitivity, exposure, and adaptive capacity at each of these biological levels. Understanding likely future change is central to these assessments, and we also provide an overview and guidance for the use of climate and ecological response models relevant to conducting fish and wildlife
This tool provides seven case studies:
Case Study 1. NatureServe’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index for Species in Nevada (Bruce Young, Jennifer Newmark, and Kristin Szabo)
Case Study 2. U.S. EPA’s Threatened and Endangered Species Vulnerability Framework
(Hector Galbraith and Jeff Price)
Case Study 3. Species Vulnerability Assessment for the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico .(Deborah M. Finch, Megan M. Friggens, and Karen E. Bagne)
Case Study 4. Vulnerability of Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Habitats to Climate Change (Hector Galbraith and John O’Leary)
Case Study 5. Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise in the Chesapeake Bay (Patty Glick and Michael Wilson)
Case Study 6. An Integrated Climate Change Assessment Framework in the Four Corners Region (Patrick McCarthy and Carolyn Enquist)
Case Study 7. Pacific Northwest Climate Change Vulnerability
Assessment is at the discretion of the educator and how this vulnerability assessment tool is applied and what the expectations are.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
Naomi Edelson, National Wildlife Federation (Chair)
Nancy Green, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Co-Chair)
Rocky Beach, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Molly Cross, Wildlife Conservation Society
Carolyn Enquist, The Nature Conservancy
Deborah Finch, U.S. Forest Service
Hector Galbraith, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences
Evan Girvetz, The Nature Conservancy
Patty Glick, National Wildlife Federation
John Gross, National Park Service
Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University; ATMOS Research and Consulting
Jennie Hoffman, EcoAdapt
Doug Inkley, National Wildlife Federation
Bruce Jones, U.S. Geological Survey
Linda Joyce, U.S. Forest Service
Josh Lawler, University of Washington
Dennis Ojima, The Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment
John O’Leary, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Bruce Stein, National Wildlife Federation
Bruce Young, Nature Serve