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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Building Resilience to Climate Change One Landscape at a Time

  RoseateSpoonbill Roseate spoonbills at J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which is located in Southwest Florida. Photo by Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

Approximately 2,216 Disney Magic Kingdoms… that’s the equivalent number of acres of habitat that Florida could lose to sea-level rise and urbanization by 2060. That’s just Florida. Across the country, conservation challenges like sea-level rise, urbanization, land-use changes and invasive species emphasize the critical need to identify, conserve and restore important lands and waters, and make them more resilient to a changing climate.

Southwest Florida is one of seven landscape-scale partnerships selected to participate in the Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative along with the California Headwaters, California's North-Central Coast and Russian River Watershed, Crown of the Continent, Great Lakes Coastal, Hawai’i, and Puget Sound's Snohomish River Watershed.

The Initiative is a key part of President Obama’s Interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience’s Priority Agenda for Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources (Priority Agenda), a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive commitment across the federal government to collaborate with partners to build the resilience of natural resources in the U.S. 

Great Lakes coast. Photo by NOAA

The culmination of this nearly two-year effort resulted today in an event hosted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the release of the Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative final report and companion website

“America's natural resources are vulnerable to many threats, including invasive species, habitat loss, pollution, and extreme weather. Climate change is compounding the impacts from these challenges,” said Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director of White House Council on Environmental Quality. “The Resilient Lands and Water Initiative provides our nation’s natural resource managers with lessons learned and tools that can help them prepare their own landscapes for a rapidly changing future.”  

The final report and website feature the accomplishments of the seven partnerships and describe overarching challenges, lessons learned, and recommendations. The website also provides links to decision support tools, maps and related websites developed by the individual partnerships.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been engaged in the Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative through the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs). Five of the seven projects leveraged LCC leadership, capacity, public-private partnerships, and/or resources: including Southwest Florida-Peninsular Florida LCC; Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands-Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC; Hawai’i-Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative; Crown of the Continent-Great Northern LCC; and California's North-Central Coast and Russian River Watershed-California LCC. 

   SW Florida storymapA screen capture of a story map created by the Southwest Florida partnership.

“No one group will be able to do it all,” said Steve Traxler, Science Coordinator for the Peninsular Florida LCC, in talking about the future of conservation. “I hope the Initiative will be a catalyst to encourage similar resilience efforts to look around for opportunities to build relationships and collaborate to be a unified voice for their landscapes.”

The Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative supports the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy (NFWPCAS) whose first goal is to build and maintain an ecologically connected network of terrestrial, coastal and marine conservation areas that are likely to be resilient to climate change and support a broad range of fish, wildlife and plants under changing conditions. To learn more, visit www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/partnerships.php.


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