As part of April’s virtual Northeast Fish & Wildlife Conference, the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center and Terwilliger Consulting, Inc., co-organized the special session, "Emerging Threats and Unintended Consequences: How Climate Change Exacerbates and Complicates Wildlife Management."
Nine invited speakers discussed the challenges that climate change brings to natural resource management and outlined the steps being taken to address pervasive and interactive threats with myriad anthropogenic stressors in the Northeast region. Presentations gave paired research and management perspectives on four topic areas: forest management, invasive species, renewable energy development, and coastal resilience. In addition, a panel discussion considered: 1) how state and federal agencies could improve communication of conservation actions meant to support climate adaptation to diverse (and sometimes conflicting) audiences, and 2) the greatest challenges in transitioning from research to implementation.
Presenters agreed that when communicating with diverse audiences, especially on controversial topics, it was important to meet people where they are, present information in multiple formats, focus on the basics, and avoid being overly technical. Demonstrations of successful climate adaptation implementation case studies as well as explanations of the trade-offs among taking different actions (including no action) were identified as key communication and engagement tools. The panel also concurred that collaborating with multiple science and management partners increased the reach of the intended targets and having an independent messenger (or ambassador) to promote messages beyond government agencies increased trust and acceptance among certain audiences.
The session was well received with over 120 participants joining virtually. This cross-disciplinary effort provided new insights into the challenges of making adaptation happen on the ground and promoting strategic and collaborative solutions to address complicated and often cascading threats to avoid maladaptive and unintended outcomes.
Slides from the special session are available for viewing here.