The Climate Change Response Framework is a highly collaborative approach to understanding the potential effects of climate change on forest ecosystems and integrating climate change considerations into land management.
Climate change has the potential to affect areas much larger than any single ownership, making multi-institutional efforts and partnerships instrumental in addressing climate change. From its beginning, the Framework was conceived as a model for collaborative management and climate change response across large and diverse landscapes that could be employed beyond the original geographic borders of the project. With this in mind, the framework represents a broad approach for responding to climate change that can be adjusted and applied to other locations and landscapes. The information and tools developed as part of this project can be applied by forest owners and managers working in a variety of private and public agencies. Currently, the Framework is being applied in other locations in the eastern U.S. through coordinated place-based projects.
The six-step Framework process is adaptive, works at multiple scales, and incorporates new information into existing planning processes.
Step 1: Identify location, ecosystems and time frame
The first step is defining the scope of the project, including the geographic scale and extent of the analysis area, the ecosystems of interest, and relevant timelines. The location, scale, ecosystems, and time frame identified can be refined throughout the process as needed. For example, the time frame may be influenced by the information that is selected for use in the assessments.
Step 2: Establish partnerships
Communication and coordination with partners enables everyone involved to respond to climate change by increasing the amount and accessibility of information and ideas. Whenever possible, the use of existing partnerships is extremely valuable because it builds upon established relationships and can avoid redundancy in many situations.
Step 3: Assess ecosystem vulnerabilities and mitigation potential
Information about projected changes in climate and impacts on ecosystems helps determine what species, ecosystems, or other features are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. There is no universally accepted process for developing these assessments, and new and different assessments are rapidly being developed.
Step 4: Compile adaptation strategies and approaches
Re-examining the breadth of adaptation strategies being discussed in scientific and management communities within the specific context of the analysis area and its ecosystems will help identify an array of strategies that are the most relevant for local land managers. This comprehensive array of strategies and approaches does not focus on a particular land use or management goal, but instead serves as a menu from which managers can select actions based on their management needs for a particular situation. Integrating local vulnerabilities with a menu of adaptation approaches can help managers devise the most realistic adaptation tactics for their needs.
Step 5: Plan and implement at appropriate scales
After considering management goals and local vulnerabilities, and then choosing adaptation strategies and approaches, land owners and managers can devise adaptation tactics that are best suited to their needs and constraints. The implementation of some tactics may be considered practicable and appropriate in some ownerships, but not others. Even within an ownership, some tactics may be deemed fully practicable and even necessary in the long term, but too risky or uncertain in the near term. It is important to select adaptation tactics using all relevant constraints and opportunities. Implementation of adaptation tactics will vary widely across ownerships and through time, just as there is a wide variety of tactics currently applied in forest management.
Step 6: Integrate monitoring and evaluate effectiveness
Monitoring is a critical step to evaluate whether management actions are effective in responding to climate change and reducing the vulnerability of ecosystems to changes that are occurring. As with implementation, the ways in which monitoring is implemented, and how monitoring results are incorporated into management will depend upon land managers’ particular decisionmaking processes and plans. Results from monitoring can be integrated throughout this framework to refine individual steps. For example, monitoring results may be able to provide more detail on the vulnerability of ecosystem components to specific climate change impacts, and this information could be included in relevant assessments.
To learn more about this six-step process, read the Framework Chapter of Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers.
As part of the Climate Change Response Framework, an integrated set of tools, partnerships, and actions were developed to support climate smart conservation and management, including Vulnerability Assessments, Partnerships, Forest Adaptation Resources, and Demonstration Projects. Visit Framework Components to learn more about these integrated resources.