Impossible to Conserve Nature As Is, Thanks to Climate Change
By Elizabeth Harball and ClimateWire
(Scientific American) – When President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon in 1903, he famously admonished the attending crowd to avoid meddling with the landscape. "Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it," he said.
True to Roosevelt's message, America's conservationists have since focused on maintaining the status quo, or at least restoring ecosystems to their natural state.
But due to the growing impacts of climate change, this can no longer continue, according to a new guide for land managers backed by multiple state and federal agencies.
"Addressing the growing threats brought about or accentuated by rapid climate change requires a fundamental shift in the practice of natural resource management in conservation," states the document, released yesterday by the National Wildlife Federation in partnership with the National Park Service, U.S. EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey and several other federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
"While managers traditionally have looked to the past for inspiration, increasingly we will be faced with future conditions that may have no historical analogs," it states.
The guide is intended to demystify climate adaptation for habitat and wildlife managers. It provides a step-by-step process evaluating how ecosystems may be vulnerable to climate change and how conservation goals might be altered for the best possible outcome.