Manage for Climate Change Resilience

Climate change has already been linked to changes in habitats and ecosystems, including species composition, weather patterns and the length of the seasons. As average global temperature continues to warm, these changes will continue.

What Does Climate Change Mean for Habitats and Ecosystems?

The potential impacts to ecosystems and the habitats they contain vary by region, species composition, established weather patterns, and much more. The impacts may include:

  • Warmer temperatures, which typically (but not always) mean wetter and shorter winters, and hotter, drier and longer summers.
  • More severe weather — storms, floods, droughts, etc.
  • Increased health risks from disease, pests and new competitors or predators.
  • Habitat alteration or degradation due to drought, rising temperatures, wildfire and other events.
  • Changing species composition due to climate change impacts, such as species migration, competition, predation, and disease.
  • Temporal or geographic disconnect between species that previously relied upon one another, such as pollinators and flowers.
  • Shifting boundaries between habitats. Some habitat types or ecosystems may expand their range, while others will contract.

How Can Land Trusts Help?

By planning for climate change today, land trusts help manage habitats and enable ecosystems to be more able to rebound from the effects of climate change tomorrow. Land trusts may consider the following actions:

Since the impacts of climate change will vary by habitat, land trusts may wish to adapt their management policies to fit their priority habitat(s) or ecosystem(s).

In addition to encouraging long-term planning that acknowledges changing climate conditions, as long-term environmental stewards land trusts are in a unique position to support mitigation policies and practices that galvanize immediate actions to reduce the potential extent of future climate change today.