Vital Futures: Conservation Adaptation Planning for Landscape and Climate Change in the Southeast
PIs: Nils Peterson (NC State University), Kirstin Dow (University of South Carolina), Bruce Stein (National Wildlife Federation)
Project Completion: December 2019
Implements Science Plan Theme: 2-6
Co-PIs: Ross Meentemeyer (NC State University), Fred Cubbage (NC State University), Adam Terando (Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center)
The Southeast is currently undergoing high rates of population growth, urbanization, and land use change while also experiencing climatic changes. These changes are threatening, and will continue to threaten, wildlife and their habitats. Most existing conservation programs and activities, however, focus on maintaining systems in their current condition, or returning them to a historic state, rather than enabling systems to adapt to projected changes.
This project was designed to support the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) effort in developing a collaborative network of conservation partners, shared conservation goals, and regional strategies to manage fish, wildlife, and other natural resources into the future. The project team conducted a detailed review and evaluation of southeastern State Wildlife Action Plans and determined that while states share a collective concern about the threat of climate change, adaptation strategies tended to be general and often vague, and wildlife management goals tended to emphasize the persistence of species and habitats rather than managing for future system changes. We recommended a variety of steps to enhance cross-state and regional wildlife conservation that better accounts for future change. This included initiating a successful state-based effort to develop a list of Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need (RSGCN). Future urban development, fire hazards, and climate shifts were mapped to demonstrate how these impact conservation goals and objectives with respect to plausible future scenarios of land and climate change impacts. Project products include reports on the assessment findings, RSGCN list, and visualizations of scenarios of change in the Southeast.
Project Goal 1: Assess conservation and resource management plans for existing goals and objectives
Goal one was met by conducting systematic thematic analysis of all State Wildlife Action Plans in the Southeast.
- Climate Change and Conservation in the Southeast: A Review of State Wildlife Action Plans Report Summary, October 2018
- Climate Change and Conservation in the Southeast: A Review of State Wildlife Action Plans Final Report, October 2018
A drill-down analysis was conducted focused on longleaf pine management plans (Clark et al., 2018).
Project Goal 2: Evaluate existing goals and objectives with respect to scenarios of future climate and land change
We addressed goal two by mapping future impacts of urban development, fire hazards, and climate shifts to demonstrate how these impact conservation goals and objectives with respect to plausible future scenarios of land and climate change impacts.
SECAS/SE CASC Science Seminar: Perspectives on Prescribed Fire Management in Longleaf Pine Ecosystems
Project Goal 3: Facilitate development of climate aligned goals, objectives, and strategies and develop principles and propositions for managing change in the Southeast
This goal was addressed in multiple ways that were specifically aligned with the evolving nature and needs of the SECAS initiative.
SECAS Third Thursday Web Forum: How Decision-makers View Wildlife Conservation Challenges
SE CASC Science Seminar: Lessons for Landscape-scale Conservation Learned from the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy