Addressing climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's…

Learn more about climate change
 does not hinge on a single solution. Just as climate change impacts different habitats and species in different ways, a combination of different solutions is needed in our response.  

Climate change is a complex natural resource management problem because it involves persistent change across large swaths of lands, waters, and geographies – and experienced locally in different ways.  

Conditions fueled by or worsened by climate change may alter the ranges where fish, plants, and wildlife live and migrate, changing natural environments like habitats and ecosystems that came to be over hundreds or thousands of years. The consequences of these unprecedented changes are unknown.  

Climate change will continue to affect our nation’s fish, wildlife, and plant resources in profound ways:  

  • While many species will continue to thrive, some populations may decline, many will shift their ranges substantially, and still others will face increased risk of becoming extinct 

  • Some species will survive in the wild only through direct and continuous intervention by wildlife and fisheries managers 

Climate change impacts are occurring more often and causing more damage than at any time in recorded human history. Because these environmental changes are so pronounced and so widespread, we are using the best-available science to help decide where to adapt, where to resist, and what tools are needed to do so. 

Adaptation, Mitigation, and Community Engagement

Through our conservation work and collaboration with partners, we’re committed to responding to climate change through adaptation and mitigation efforts.  

We also work closely with local communities, including states and Tribes, to develop and implement solutions on a local scale.  

Learn more about each approach: 

  • Adaptation: Helping fish, plants, and wildlife adjust to climate change impacts and moderating impacts by applying cutting-edge science to manage species and habitats.
  • Mitigation: Reducing levels of planet-warming pollution (greenhouse gases) in Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Community Involvement and Engagement: Joining forces with others to seek solutions to the challenges and threats to fish and wildlife conservation posed by climate change.

Resist-Accept-Direct

Sometimes, it can be challenging to determine whether adaptation is the most suitable solution, or mitigation – or both, or even neither.  

To address this challenge, scientists, public land managers, and natural resource managers around the world have developed the “Resist-Accept-Direct" framework, which examines what response, if any, is the most appropriate for a given scenario. 

The full report, Resist-Accept-Direct (RAD)—A Framework for the 21st-century Natural Resource Manager, provides in-depth discussion of each approach summarized below: 

  • Resist the direction of change, by working to maintain or restore function, structure structure
    Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish…

    Learn more about structure
    or composition, based on historical or acceptable current conditions. To resist means to return a system to its historical condition. 

  • Accept the direction of change, by allowing the change to occur without intervening. To accept is to allow nature to change conditions without any management response. 

  • Direct the change, by actively shaping managing processes, function, structure or composition toward a new desired condition. To direct is to take management actions to forcefully move a system toward some condition that people find desirable. 

Climate Change Responses