How Does Climate Change Affect Land Trusts?

Global temperatures interact with nearly all aspects of our climate, from the amount and timing of precipitation to storm and wind intensity. These effects — known as climate change impacts — are happening faster than in previous periods of climate change. As a result, there are concerns that both human and natural systems may be unable to adapt to changing conditions.

Climate affects the distribution and abundance of plant and animal species, as well as the health and integrity of ecosystems. As climate changes, species may:

  • Stay put, and find ways to adapt to changing conditions;
  • Move to areas where conditions are tolerable;
  • Decline in population, as individuals die off or fail to reproduce.

These changes may make conservation goals difficult to achieve and may complicate management efforts, especially in vulnerable areas. Impacts are not uniform, and so land trusts may need to conduct their own vulnerability assessments or build on existing information to identify and address risks due to changing conditions. While these shifts may present challenges, applying adaptive management principles can help land trusts continue to steward natural resources and protect the places and the values that people love and rely on.

The specific impacts of climate change will vary by region. The following resources explain climate impacts by region.

Learn more about how climate change could impact land trusts: