New Paper “A Vulnerability-Based Strategy for Incorporating Climate Change in Regional Conservation Planning:Framework and Case Study for the British Columbia Central Interior” By Kittel Et Al 2011

In our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2011: Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences, submitted.  

we presented reasons that a bottom-up, resource-based perspective of risk should be adopted.

A colleague of mine , Timothy Kittel, of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado, has shared with us an important application of the bottom-up, resource-based (contextual) assessment approach in his paper

Timothy G.F. Kittel, Sara G. Howard, Hannah Horn, Gwen M. Kittel, Matthew Fairbarns,5 and Pierre Iachetti, 2011: A Vulnerability-Based Strategy for Incorporating Climate Change in Regional Conservation Planning: Framework and Case Study for the British Columbia Central. Interior BC Journal of Environment and Management. in press

The abstract reads

“High uncertainty in the future of regional climates and ecosystems presents a challenge to the conservation of biodiversity and landscapes. We present a framework to handle uncertainty in the incorporation of climate change in regional conservation planning. The framework uses expert opinion (1) to formulate qualitative scenarios of climatic and ecological change based on expected as well as less probable but plausible futures not tied to specific model projections, (2) to synthesize established knowledge of the climate vulnerability of species and ecosystems of concern, and (3) to specify no-regrets climate adaptation strategies to reduce these vulnerabilities in conservation site selection. The framework was implemented in an ecoregional assessment of the British Columbia Central Interior selecting terrestrial and freshwater high-priority conservation sites. Vulnerability was assessed relative to generalized change scenarios of moderate and severe climate-driven environmental disruption tied to decadal and centennial planning horizons, respectively. Including climate adaptation strategies in the regional site-selection process had a substantial effect on both freshwater and terrestrial assessments. Selection of high-priority sites based on climate adaptation strategies generally (1) increased the number, size, buffering, and connectivity of selected sites, (2) included and expanded on sites already selected based on standard (non-climate change specified) criteria alone, and (3) drew more from moderately favorable sites. Climate adaptation-based selection showed similar outcomes for terrestrial and freshwater assessments and for different parts of the domain, though with some selection bias to more northern areas and higher reaches of drainages. These planning outcomes are consistent with the no-regrets goal—adopting strategies that also reduce vulnerability to other threats. Climate vulnerability-based site selection (1) gave more weight to sites supporting species and ecosystems considered most vulnerable to climate change and (2) additionally incorporated sites for species not previous considered of concern. While limited by our understanding of species and ecosystem vulnerability, the integration of vulnerability assessment, moderate to severe change scenarios, and a no-regrets approach generated regional conservation strategies for climate change adaptation in the face of uncertainty in the future of climates, landscapes, and species.”

with the Table of Contents

  • 1.0 Introduction
  • 1.1 The climate change threat
  • 1.2 Conservation planning and climate uncertainty
  • 1.3 Limitations in applying projections
  • 1.4 Vulnerability approach
  • 2.0 Climate Vulnerability Framework for Regional Conservation Planning
  • 2.1 Treating climate change as a threat
  • 2.2 Framework
  • 2.2.1 Expert team synthesis2
  • 2.2.2 Change scenarios and planning horizons
  • 3.0 Case Study
  • 3.1 Ecoregional assessment for the British Columbia Central Interior
  • 3.2 Implementation of the climate vulnerability framework
  • 3.2.1 Overview
  • 3.2.2 Freshwater climate adaptation strategies: Species
  • 3.2.3 Freshwater climate adaptation strategies: Ecological systems
  • 3.2.4 Terrestrial climate adaptation strategies: Ecological systems
  • 3.2.5 Terrestrial climate adaptation strategies: Vertebrate species
  • 3.2.6 Terrestrial climate adaptation strategies: Plant species
  • 3.2.7 Effect of climate adaptation strategies: Comparison of Marxan outputs
  • 3.3 Results
  • 3.3.1 Impact of considering climate on the number of selected planning units
  • 3.3.2 Character of priority sites
  • 3.3.3 Overlap of solutions
  • 3.3.4 Geographic dependence
  • 3.4 Summary and discussion
  • 3.4.1 Results overview
  • 3.4.2 Discussion: No-regrets outcomes for climate adaptation
  • 3.5 Improving the process
  • 4.0 Next Steps
  • 4.1 Additional Marxan site-selection strategies
  • 4.2 Regional site selection review
  • 4.3 Landscape and site-level climate adaptation strategies
  • 5.0 Conclusion
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Tables and Figures

An excerpt from their paper reads

“…. a problem in incorporating climate change in conservation planning is the high magnitude of uncertainty in model-generated future climate and ecological projections (Botkin et al. 2007, Conroy et al. 2011). By ‘high,’ we mean that uncertainty is as large or larger than system sensitivity (e.g., for projected regional precipitation: Tebaldi et al. 2004). Uncertainty in climate projections arises from multiple sources, including (1) underlying complexity of the climate system and other practical constraints limiting our ability to model climates (Rial et al. 2004, Randall et al. 2007, Knutti 2008, Schellnhuber 2009), (2) uncertainty in forthcoming human forcing (for example, emissions and landuse change) determined by future socioeconomic policy and global economic growth (reflected in part by the breadth of emission scenarios in, e.g., Forster et al. 2007, Anderson and Bows 2011), and (3) insufficient consideration of the spectrum of important human forcings in most climate model experiments (Pielke et al. 2009). High levels of uncertainty also apply to ecological projections because of inherent ecosystem complexity and because key biotic processes are often poorly considered in ecological model experiments (Botkin et al. 2007, Purves and Pacala 2008, Wiens et al. 2009).”

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