Climate change is one of the greatest environmental and conservation challenges of the 21st Century.
The area encompassed by the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative currently supports scores of native plant and animal species, a growing human population, and a rich diversity of natural resource-dependent traditions, cultures, and businesses. Resources within this 200,000 square-mile area are affected by climate change and related large-scale environmental stressors. The NPLCC, in close partnership with other science/management organizations, and Tribes and First Nations, will help coordinate the development of climate-related cience to conserve and sustainably manage a variety of species and habitats within these coastal, marine, estuarine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems.
The NPLCC spans the Pacific Northwest from South Central Alaska to Northern California and includes the entire coastal temperate forest region and associated marine and freshwater areas, Natural resources in some of these areas are at risk from habitat fragmentation, land-use changes, invasive species, and a variety of factors related to the region’s changing climate. Climate change has already begun to alter natural resources in the Pacific region. For example, snowpack in the Cascade Mountains has declined by about 25% over the last half century, mainly due to an increase in cool season air temperatures (Mote, P.W., A.F. Hamlet, M.P. Clark, and D.P. Lettenmaier. 2005. Declining mountain snowpack in western North America. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 86(1):39-49)
Scientific evidence suggests that climate change will continue to alter snowpacks, stream characteristics, precipitation patterns, and the temperature, acidity, and level of our oceans, seas, and estuaries. These physical changes are expected to influence biological systems by shifting species distributions and increasing the risk of wildfire, disease, and insect outbreaks. Effects on natural and cultural resources will extend beyond defined management boundaries and national borders. Predicting and preparing for these widespread changes will require new science along with a heightened level of coordination between resource managers and scientists across the North American continent.
The NPLCC’s landscapes, and the fish, wildlife, plants and cultural heritage they support are increasingly impacted by threats that affect more than isolated places or single species. They tend to threaten multiple resources and entire landscapes. Often, these threats are beyond the scope and reach of any one partner, partnership, or program. The NPLCC provides a forum for partners and partnerships to integrate efforts. The North Pacific LCC provides us the critical bridge to link science and management to effectively address these challenges.