Climate Change and...

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

Overall Strategy: Adopt a Toolbox Approach

No single solution and no individual management approach will be appropriate to all or even most situations. The diversity of resource contexts has always required that place-based and individualized prescriptions be developed; the climate-change context magnifies this reality. Understanding that a range of options exists, with some options appropriate to the short-term and others effective for the long-term, better positions decision-makers for the realities of changing times and dynamic landscapes. Below we suggest broad tools that currently occupy the toolbox – over time and with experience, the toolbox will grow and become filled with diverse and concrete examples, case studies, and lessons learned. Now and later, tools should be mixed and combined to best match the particular management context under consideration.

Contents of the ToolBox: Adaptation, Mitigation and the "5-R Strategies"

Adaptation and Mitigation. At the highest level in the toolbox are two broad climate-change strategies: adaptation and mitigation (IPCC 2007a). Adaptation implies all those approaches taken to adjust, prepare, and accommodate new conditions that are created by changing climates. Adaptations may be cultural and societal, for instances families deciding to purchase flood, fire, or windstorm insurance, or utility companies expanding energy capacities to accommodate unprecedented heat-wave surges. For natural-resource managers, adaptation strategies include those actions taken to assist natural resources (species, habitats, forest plantations, watersheds) in accommodating the changes and new conditions imposed by climate. Mitigation strategies include those actions taken to reduce and reverse the human influence on the climate system, primarily through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and feedbacks.

Adaptation and mitigation strategies are best considered joint paths – these primary tools optimally are combined and integrated. Thankfully, approaches to adaptation and mitigation will often be complementary: what is best management practice for one often is also for the other. However, especially in forest- and ecosystem-management situations, conflicts are very likely to arise. Thus, evaluating pros and cons of short- and long-term choices becomes extremely important.

We outline five broad sub-strategies within the adaptation-mitigation toolbox. For didactic purposes, we call these the "5-R" strategies. They are summarized in order from most conservative to most pro-active; an informal "handle" is offered for each as a descriptive label.

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