The Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Climate Adaptation Fund, in collaboration with the Climate Resilience Fund (CRF), has released a new report providing practical guidance to foundation and public agency funders, and natural resource managers for reducing their investment risk in the era of climate change. The report was launched this week at the 2019 National Adaptation Forum in Madison, Wisconsin.
According to the 2018 National Climate Assessment, a legally-mandated synthesis of recent climate findings and future projections, ecologically and economically valuable resources are being lost at an alarming rate due to climate change impacts.
For conservation funders, these threats represent a disturbance to the status quo for ecosystems where they have already made significant investment, and perhaps more critically, emphasize the ever-shifting landscape for future investing decisions.
A new report, “Managing Risks to Conservation Investments Through Climate Adaptation,” offers practical guidance for how funders can embrace changes that are imminent, intentionally consider climate change in their work, and in turn, make their investments last. “The report draws on examples and lessons learned from the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund’s experience investing $16.9 million in over 90 climate-informed conservation projects across the United States” said Molly Cross, Director of Science for the Climate Adaptation Fund. “The steps outlined in the report help funders consider whether projects are designed for long-term conservation impact in the face of anticipated climate changes.”
The report also presents a new concept, the continuum of intentionality for funders, which contains three levels: Empower, Require, and Equip. “This allows funders to evaluate their current capacity for considering climate change in their own work and that of their grantees,” explained John Nordgren, Managing Director of the Climate Resilience Fund. “The guidance meets them where they are by presenting options with varying levels of effort for incorporating climate-science based criteria and provides them with the next steps and necessary tools to increase their level of intentionality.”
An effective communications strategy is another way to ensure that investments are leveraged and the message of incorporating climate science is amplified. The report highlights conservation projects that are not only designed for long-term conservation outcomes, but that include strategic communications activities to attract the attention of other practitioners, policy makers, and funders. This outreach has been shown to catalyze additional funding for climate adaptation from both the public and private sector.
“In addition to providing valuable strategies and guidance,” said Darren Long, Associate Director of the Climate Resilience Fund, “the report includes a number of examples from Climate Adaptation Fund projects that have successfully incorporated climate science into their work, as well as others that have used communications to attract significant new investments and scale up.”
Such examples include:
● The Natural Areas Conservancy, in partnership with the New York City Parks Department, is incorporating models of how climate change may alter future distributions of tree species into its efforts to restore and improve forested habitat within the City’s public parks.
● Trout Unlimited, Virginia restored crucial habitat in streams expected to remain sufficiently cold for native fish. Their work led to more than $8 million in additional investment from the US Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service to take restorations to scale across the larger watershed.
● Scenic Hudson has used projections of sea level rise and tidal wetland responses to prioritize the conservation of lands immediately upslope from wetlands that have the potential to migrate inland. The project is helping to ensure the long-term persistence of brackish and freshwater wetland habitat for wildlife and other ecosystem services in the Hudson Valley.
The WCS Climate Adaptation Fund is a program made possible through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “Managing Risks to Conservation Investments Through Climate Adaptation” is available online at: https://www.wcsclimateadaptationfund.org/resources
For additional reports, resources, and detailed descriptions of projects previously supported by the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund, visit our website: http://wcsclimateadaptationfund.org
For information on the mission and grantmaking priorities of the Climate Resilience Fund, please visit www.climateresiliencefund.org and follow us on Twitter at @ClimResFund.
Stay updated on the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @WCSAdapts.
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