Today the Obama administration released the landmark National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, a plan for responding to climate change to help conserve our precious wildlife and natural resources. It provides in-depth analysis of climate change-related conservation problems and practical solutions that confront them head-on. It’s an unprecedented step towards taking action in a warming world, and mirrors Defenders’ own climate adaptation vision
Defenders of Wildlife was instrumental in ensuring that this national wildlife adaptation plan was created, including urging Congress to provide direction to the administration to prepare this groundbreaking plan and engaging the administration throughout its development.
What makes the strategy so unique? To start, this is the first national plan for responding to climate change developed by federal, state and tribal organizations together. Its creation, three years in the making, was truly a team effort.
It’s also more focused and direct than many plans that have come before it. The strategy outlines the wide range of ecosystems and wildlife affected by climate change. From the arctic tundra to the Florida Everglades, from butterflies to polar bears, climate change is making an impact. And this strategy calls on us to act before it’s too late.
It includes seven goals for helping our fish, wildlife and plants respond to and build resiliency in a warming world. Goal 1, “Conserve and Connect Habitat,” calls for ensuring that wildlife can modify their range in response to climate fluctuations. States like Florida with fragmented wildlife habitat can help species survive by creating wildlife corridors, and developing strategically to avoid making habitats even more isolated.
Goal 2, “Manage Species and Habitats,” calls for updating and changing species conservation plans to consider the impacts of climate change. This will help protect a wide range of species currently affected by climate change.
And possibly one of the most vital goals of the strategy, goal 6, calls for increasing climate change awareness and motivating decision-makers and the public to act. This is and will continue to be a hugely important issue: from securing funds for restoration work to protecting crucial wildlife habitat, there can be little progress unless everyone understands the threat of climate change.
Now that the strategy is complete, it’s time to implement it. Here at Defenders, we hope to see some of the partners that helped create the strategy, like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service, begin to work towards accomplishing the strategy’s goals. And along with adaptation, we need to focus on reducing carbon emissions: the two go hand in hand. The strategy is our roadmap for responding to climate change; it’s time to begin the journey.