Climate Change and...

Re-Framing Forest and Resource Management Strategies for a Climate Change Context

Setting Priorities

Climate-change pushes the resource-manager's already full plate to overflow. More than ever, demands will exceed capacity and conflicts among choices will have higher stakes. Evaluation of options and setting priorities will be increasingly important. At an overall level, decision-makers have three options for engaging climate-management, each defensible under different scenarios. They can do nothing (no advance planning), react after disturbance or extreme events (when trajectories are often adaptively reset under natural conditions) or act proactively in advance (Joyce et al. in press). Priority-setting is a science in itself; several approaches to priority setting have been discussed in the context of climate change. These include tiered approaches such as no-regrets, low regrets, win-win (Willows and Connell 2003), and employing low- to high-technology approaches judiciously (Ralph 2007). Formal triage approaches, developed and used widely in military and emergency medicine, can be successfully adopted in resource situations whenever time is short and capacity to meet urgent demands inadequate. Systematically evaluating vulnerabilities provides an essential first step in all approaches (IPCC 2007b).

In Sum

We describe a preliminary framework appropriate to western mountainous environments for developing forest and natural-resource management strategies in the face of climate change. Adaptation and mitigation approaches may be divided into short- and long-term options following the "5-R strategies": Increase resistance, promote resilience, enable response, encourage re-alignment, and implement practices to reduce the human influence on climate. Priority-setting, especially embracing methods that empower decision-making under urgent contexts where demand is greater than capacity to respond becomes very important. While general principles will emerge, the best preparation is for managers and planners to stay closely turned to local environments and resources, remain informed about relevant emerging climate science in their regions, and to use that knowledge to shape effective local solutions. A goal of this article is to engage dialogue on this issue.

bottom right