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Can a National Strategy Help Wildlife Adapt to Climate Change?

Can a National Strategy Help Wildlife Adapt to Climate Change?

Polar bears might come to mind when we think about animals that are already being negatively affected by climate change, but the loss of Arctic sea ice isn’t the only impact of changing temperatures. Growing seasons are being altered and causing species to move to new areas, others are migrating at different times, still others are disappearing entirely and they’re all left vulnerable to more severe weather.

Experts are worried about how the natural world will continue to adapt and how we will feel the effects of those changes and, as common sense would dictate, they believe we need to start taking steps now to safeguard the natural resources that communities, economies and wild animals rely on.

In response to a call in 2010 from Congress for a nationwide conservation plan, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the New York Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, along with a diverse team of state and tribal experts, put their collective expertise together and gathered input from non-profits, resource managers and 55,000 Americans to create The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy.

The Strategy builds on things that are already being done to protect our environment and offers a roadmap of steps that need to be taken or started over the next five to ten years to reduce the impacts of climate change.

“The health and vitality of our nation’s natural resources are important components of our overall social and economic welfare,” said Eric Schwaab, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at NOAA. “As resource trustees, we have an obligation to understand, consider and minimize all the potential impacts, including those from climate change. This new strategy will help us meet those challenges and empower current and future generations to be better stewards of our priceless resources and cherished landscapes amidst a rapidly changing world.”

The Strategy points out that most of the current laws, policies and regulations we have in place weren’t developed with the understanding we now have of climate change and how it impacts the environment and wildlife.

The authors hope to see a coordinated effort from policy makers, natural resource managers, private land owners and the public in seven key areas: increasing conservation efforts, updating approaches to species and habitat management, updating conservation laws and policies, supporting coordinated management efforts, improving information sharing, increasing public awareness and involvement and reducing non-climate stressors that are hurting plants and wildlife, such as pollution, illegal trade, invasive species and disease.

With 70 percent of the land in the U.S. now privately owned, it also notes the importance of public involvement and suggested offering easements to create corridors for wildlife to travel through.

The Strategy does have detractors because it’s only a set of voluntary recommendations on helpful changes with no official authority to enact them, although it does recommend establishing a governing body to evaluate how it is implemented and report on progress made.

 

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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79 comments

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6:33AM PDT on Jun 12, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

5:13PM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

HOW MUCH OF THIS IS JUST LIP-SERVICE??? I'M HIT DAILY WITH E-MAILS ABOUT THE HORRENDOUS ACTIONS THAT THESE "SO-CALLED" WILDLIFE EXPERTS ARE DOING AGAINST OUR WILDLIFE THAT IS EXTREMELY DETRIMENTAL TO "OUR" WILDLIFE!!!! KILLING ANY WILDLIFE FOR THE SAKE OF "HUNTERS" IS DEFINITELY NOT "OK"!!!!! THIS ORGANIZATION WANTS TO DECIMATE ALL THE GREY WOLVES IN THE LOWER 48 STATES, BY TAKING THEM OFF THE "ESA"!!!! NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!! I DON'T BELIEVE TWO-FACED POLITICIANS!!!!!

3:40PM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

YES...Stop listening to Al Gore!!!

3:09PM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

yeah

2:11PM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

We should have listened to the wildlife experts years ago then maybe our precious wildlife would not be so much in danger of being extinct within 20 years.so sad .

11:13AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

a step in the right direction. let's just keep up the pace and the direction this time. no lame excuses are acceptable...just hard work and promises kept!!

7:00AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

better late than never.

3:03AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

ty

11:58PM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

In the next 5-10 years? At the rate we're going, we should have started at least 5-10 years ago. It is a long journey and there are many obstacles, not least of which are the deniers.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to get our act together! As the old proverb goes, "We did not inherit this world from our ancestors, we have borrowed it from our children."

7:50PM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

To help wildlife adapt to climate change, listen to scientists. Don't let economists guide our thinking.

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