Home » Manage Wildlife for Climate Change Resilience
Altered climate conditions have already been linked to changes in wildlife distribution, reproduction and behavior. As temperatures continue to warm and precipitation patterns shift, these fluctuations will continue. Enhancing connectivity and “conserving the stage” are critical conservation objectives that can help species adapt to changing conditions.
The potential impacts to wildlife vary by species, preferred habitat, and much more, and may include:
Resource stewards can address impacts to species by addressing vulnerable wildlife and ecosystems in their conservation work. For example, the Vermont Land Trust executed a targeted 163 acre land acquisition to help struggling black bears move between the Green Mountain and Taconic ranges. Working to connect these vast open spaces in Vermont and New York enhances the ability of bears to move from their home ranges to feeding habitat, and increases connectivity for a variety of wildlife and the ecosystem functions they depend on for survival.
Many conservation programs are driven by objectives to manage wildlife, so existing species-focused programs can support ecosystem protection and enhancement efforts. Increasingly we are learning how interconnected animal species can be to their landscapes. Maintaining migration corridors and critical habitat for animals also protects ecosystem processes and furthers land-focused management objectives.
By planning for climate change today, land trusts help priority species weather the effects of climate change tomorrow. Land trusts may consider the following actions:
Wildlife and ecosystems are already being impacted by climate change, and these impacts are projected to increase.
The National Wildlife Federation advocates: (1) implementing smart and effective policies that reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas pollution driving climate change and endangering the health of communities and wildlife; (2) investing in clean, wildlife-friendly renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power; and (3) safeguarding wildlife and wildlife habitat by designing and carrying out Climate Smart Conservation strategies to reduce the level of negative climate change impacts and enhance the ability of wildlife and wildlife habitats to survive the changing climate.
Land trusts can engage in all of these efforts, but are particularly well-suited to implement "climate smart conservation" on the lands they steward. Read more in NWF's Wildlife Legacy: Climate Change and the Next Generation of Wildlife.
Land trusts are engaging in strategic conservation planning to build resilience and minimize vulnerabilities to impacts of climate change in different ways. Learn more.