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Climate Change Logo. Credit: FWSClimate Change

Visit: www.fws.gov/home/climatechange

Climate change is the transformational conservation challenge of our time, not only because of its direct effects, but also because of its influence on all the others stressors of our wildlife resources. It is accelerating the expansion of invasive species; raising sea levels along our 177 coastal refuges; altered hydrology in rivers and wetlands; and making a myriad of observed changes to our fragile Arctic ecosystems, including diminished sea ice, coastal erosion, shrinking glaciers, andthawing permafrost.

In response to these challenges, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a Strategic Plan for Climate Change aimed at aggressively responding to and mitigating impacts of accelerating climate change on natural systems. The plan is an integral part of the Department of the Interiorís overarching strategy for addressing climate change and its impacts on wildlife.

Along with the Strategic Plan, the Service has developed a draft 5-year Action Plan that details actions the Service will take to implement the Strategic Plan, and contains a list of climate change action priorities that are already being implemented to lay the foundation for future work on climate change.

The Strategic Plan establishes specific goals and objectives to accomplish priority commitments as integral and essential elements of broader strategies designed to address climate change.

The strategies focus on three key elements:

Adaptation: Helping to reduce the impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats;

Mitigation: Reducing levels of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere; and,

Engagement: Reaching out to Service employees; local, national and international partners in the public and private sectors; keyconstituencies and stakeholders; and the broader citizenry of this country to join forces and seek solutions to the challenges to fish and wildlife conservation posed by climate change.

The plan recognizes no single organization or agency can succeed fully in its mission without the support and involvement of others. It calls for bold, aggressive action, and outlines commitments that will help re-shape the face of conservation and enable us to play a leading role in addressing the challenges of a changing climate system. These include:

  • Facilitate development of a National Fish and Wildlife Adaptation Strategy to serve as the conservation community’s shared blueprint to guide wildlife adaptation partnerships over the next 50–100 years.
  • Help create a National Biological Inventory and Monitoring Partnership that strategically deploys the conservation community’s monitoring resources. The partnership would generate empirical data needed to track climate change effects on the distribution and abundance of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats; model predicted population and habitat change; and help us determine if our goals are being achieved.
  • Establish a network of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives that produce the science and technical information needed to understand the implications of climate change and support landscape-scale conservation through shared science capacity.
  • Deliver conservation to the most vulnerable species through various activities, including but not limited to identifying priority water needs, addressing habitat fragmentation, managing genetic resources, reducing non-climate stressors, and conducting other resource management actions.
  • Inform stakeholders on wildlife conservation issues related to energy development and policy and facilitate development of renewable energy sources in a manner that helps conserve species and avoids or minimizes significant impacts to sensitive fish, wildlife, and plant species.
  • Reduce the carbon footprint of Service facilities, vehicles, and workforce, becoming carbon neutral by 2020.
  • Develop expertise in biological carbon sequestration—sequestering greenhouse gases in plant biomass while also creating or restoring priority native fish, wildlife and plant habitats.
  • Facilitate habitat conservation through carbon sequestration at the international level. By working with international partners and stakeholders to help reduce deforestation rates in key areas, such as tropical forests, we will help preserve areas critical to biodiversity conservation and support greenhouse gas mitigation.

The Service’s Strategic Plan for Climate Change is a blueprint for action in a time of uncertainty. It calls for the Service and its partners to step up to the challenges before us, lay the foundation for wise decision making in the future and take steps now to ensure that our nation’s fish and wildlife resources will thrive in the years to come.

For more information on how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve the nature of America in a changing climate, visit <www.fws.gov/home/climatechange/>.

Last updated: July 19, 2013
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