Office of the Climate Change Advisor

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Performance Scorecard
Starting this year, each national forest and grassland will be tracking progress using a new 10-point scorecard. The Forest Service's research branch along with regional and national programs will provide support for this agency-wide effort.

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National Roadmap
The Roadmap will help to guide the Forest Service as it works to ensure that national forests and private working lands are conserved, restored, and made more resilient to climate change.

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Performance Scorecard: 7- Adaptation Actions

Scorecard Question

Does the Unit conduct management actions that reduce the vulnerability of resources and places to climate change?


What are other forests doing?

Olympic National Forest

 

Collaborators at the Pacific Northwest Research Station began a climate change adaptation case study with Olympic National Forest (R6) in partnership with Olympic National Park to determine how to adapt management of federal lands on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington, to climate change. The case study began in the summer of 2008 and continued for 1½ years. The case study process involved science-based sensitivity assessments, review of management activities and constraints, and adaptation workshops in each of four focus areas (hydrology and roads, vegetation, wildlife, and fisheries). The process produced concrete adaptation options for the National Forest and Park, and demonstrated the utility of place-based vulnerability assessment, science management workshops, and collaboration between federal land management units in adapting to climate change. Many of the ideas generated through this process can potentially be applied in other locations and in other agencies. See this GTR for more information.


Plumas National Forest

 

On the Plumas National Forest (R5), several activities have been implemented that aim to increase forest resilience to stressors, and to facilitate transitions. Some of these include: thinning stands in fire adapted ecosystems to avoid overstocked conditions that might increase susceptibility to mortality from drought, insects, disease, and wildfire; maintaining a diversity of forest types by reducing and/or removing conifer encroachment in oak and aspen stands; and considering the use of genotypes or species in restoration strategies that are more suitable to warmer climates by utilizing seed sources from adjacent seed transfer zones or lower elevations.

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Resources

Reading:

Re-Framing Forest and Resource Management Strategies for a Climate Change Context
(Millar; Stephenson; Stephens. 2008)
A framework of options for addressing climate change issues through adaptation and mitigation as they relate to forest management. Includes information on resilience, resistance and facilitating transitions.

Responding to climate change in national forests: a guidebook for developing adaptation options
(Peterson; Millar; Joyce; Furniss; Halofsky; Neilson; Morelli; Lynn)
A guidebook featuring science-based principles, processes, and tools necessary to assist with
development of adaptation options on national forest lands.

Adapting to climate change at Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park.
(Halofsky; Peterson; O’Halloran, K.A.; Hawkins Hoffman. 2011)
An adaptation case study from the Olympic Peninsula, Washington.

CCRC Recommended Reading List
Filter by ‘Adaptation’ for more resources, including the list of references recommended in the scorecard guidance.

Forest adaptation resources: Climate change tools and approaches for land managers. (Swanston; Janowiak, eds.)

Video presentations:

Adapting to Climate Change: A Short Course for Land Managers
An online curriculum of video presentations that focus on the implications of climate change for land management, and management options for dealing with those changes. Case studies on adaptation activities are included in this series.

Climate Change Presentations – Adaptation
Many presentations on the CCRC focus on the theme of adaptation to climate change. Depending on the ecological system or the level of detail that you are interested in, there could be variety options available for you. A few good places to start include:
Managing Natural Resources in the Face of Uncertainty – Jim Morrison
A Guidebook for Climate Change Adaptation – Connie Millar

Tools & Links:

TACCIMO
(Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options) is one way to get an overview of possible management options for addressing climate change impacts (primarily in Regions 8 & 9 but expanding to other regions).

Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE):
This website features case studies and resources related to climate change adaptation. Adaptation examples cover a range of systems, from forests to human communities.

Scorecard questions, concerns or suggestions for
additional resources?

Inquire with the Climate Change Advisor.

All Scorecard Elements

  1. Employee Education
  2. Climate Change Coordinators
  3. Program Guidance
  4. Science-Management Partnerships
  5. Other Partnerships
  6. Assessing Vulnerability
  7. Adaptation Actions
  8. Monitoring
  9. Carbon Assessment and Stewardship
  10. Sustainable Operations

Getting to YES

To answer "yes," your Unit should identify and incorporate relevant adaptation actions based on the vulnerability of key resources (identified in Element 6) into priority setting and management actions. The narrative for this element asks you to answer the following questions:

What adaptation activities are you doing on your Unit to reduce the vulnerability of your key resources to climate change?

Are these activities aimed at increasing resilience to stressor impacts, promoting resistance to climate change, or facilitating transitions to respond adaptively to environmental change?

Definitions

Adaptation Actions

Facilitate long-term (decades to centuries) Unit-level resilience and/or resistance to potentially adverse effects of climate change or facilitates transitions to future states by minimizing disruptive outcomes. Adaptation actions are supported by scientific principles and documented in the scientific literature.
Examples:
maintaining and enhancing biological diversity, reducing terrestrial or aquatic exotic species, modifying genetic guidelines for planting nursery stock, or investing in infrastructure that can withstand a disaster.

Resilience

The degree to which systems (e.g., a forest ecosystem, aquatic system, or human community) can recover from one or more disturbances without a major (and perhaps irreversible) shift in composition or function. Example of managing for resilience: periodic reduction in stem densities and surface fuels to reduce fire severity in dry forest or use of distributed energy systems that are locally self-sufficient.

Resistance

The ability of an organism, population, community, or ecosystem (terrestrial, aquatic, human) to withstand perturbations without significant loss of structure or function. From a management perspective, resistance includes 1) the concept of taking advantage of and boosting the inherent (biological) degree to which species are able to resist change, and 2) manipulation of the physical environment to counteract and resist physical and biological change. Example of managing for resistance: placement of fire breaks on the perimeter of climatically sensitive wildlife habitat to reduce fire spread or constructing levees to avoid flooding.

Facilitate transitions (also called response and realignment)

Approaches that facilitate transitions (also called response and realignment) are strategic actions that work directly with the changes that climate is provoking and ease transitions to future states by mitigating and minimizing undesired and disruptive outcomes while maintaining essential functions. Example of managing to facilitate transitions: planting species or genotype mixes that may be more suited to altered climate conditions in restoration projects.

Geographic Scale

Adaptation actions will usually take place at the Unit level, but some might encompass larger scales that include the Unit. Support should be provided by Regional Offices, Research Stations, and the Washington Office. Units are encouraged to consult their regional climate change coordinator or partners for assistance.

Downloads

Full Guidance Document
PDF, 2.2 MB, 104 pp

Download Appendix D: Adaptation
PDF, 360 K, 3 pp