In November 2015, the Massachusetts Climate Adaptation Partnership – a diverse team of experts from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the Department of the Interior’s Northeast Climate Science Center, and the USGS Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit – unveiled the Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool. It is an online tool for use by local decision-makers, conservation managers, land trusts, regional planners, landowners and community leaders in Massachusetts who are interested in taking action in response to climate change. With the Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool, users can access information on climate change impacts and the vulnerabilities of various fish and wildlife and their habitats. The tool also allows users to explore adaptation strategies and actions to help maintain healthy, resilient natural communities in the face of climate change.
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife submitted its State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the required approval. This Plan presents the 570 Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the Commonwealth, the 24 types of habitat that support these species, and the actions necessary to conserve them. Chapter 5 of the SWAP focuses on how climate change is likely to affect the species of greatest conservation need in Massachusetts and their habitats, and discusses how the Division will consider climate change in its conservation planning.
A new study entitled, Improving Conservation Outcomes with a New Paradigm for Understanding Species' Fundamental and Realized Adaptive Capacity addresses the importance of including adaptive capacity of species as a fundamental component when assessing vulnerability to rapid climate change. The publication represented a collaborative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, National Research Council, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, universities from across the country and world, and several NGOs. Vulnerability to climate change is dependent on the amount of climate change a species will experience (exposure), its responsiveness to direct and indirect climate impacts (sensitivity), and – the focus of this study – its ability to accommodate those changes through adaptive capacity. The authors argue that consistent inclusion of adaptive capacity would improve existing vulnerability assessments, the efficacy of climate change adaptation efforts, natural resource management, conservation, decision-making, and related policies.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs released the Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report that offers a comprehensive overview of observed and predicted changes to Massachusetts’ climate and the anticipated impacts of and potential adaptation strategies to prepare for climate change. Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report was prepared by EEA and the 34-member Climate Change Adaptation Advisory Committee established under the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008. MassWildlife was one of the agency members on the Advisory Council.
BioMap2; Conserving Massachusetts Biodiversity in a Changing World released by MassWildlife. BioMap2 designed to guide strategic biodiversity conservation in Massachusetts over the next decade by focusing land protection and stewardship on the areas that are most critical for ensuring the long-term persistence of rare and other native species and their habitats, exemplary natural communities, and a diversity of ecosystems. BioMap2 is also designed to include the habitats and species of conservation concern identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan. Finally, BioMap 2 includes information on ecologically resistant and resilient ecosystems to better address anticipated effects of climate change.
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences published a series of three reports that address questions around the impact of climate change on ecosystems and species.
Funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Doris Duke Foundation, the objective was to make "climate-smart" the State's existing State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) - the Division's "blueprint" for future conservation in the state.
As the climate continues to change in the Northeast, it is important to evaluate how current conservation planning (including the SWAP) will be affected, and how resource managers and agencies can most effectively refine long-term goals. The overall objective of this project is to help advance just such adaptation planning.
The Climate Change and Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife reports address the main adaptation issues facing planners and conservation managers in the state and are designed to be supplementary materials to the existing SWAP. The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is working with the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences and other implementation partners to achieve this goal. The reports include:
- Volume 1 - Introduction and Background file size 1MB - This report provides background to the project by describing how biodiversity conservation is currently carried out by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife; the history, objectives, and methods of the SWAP; and how the climate in Massachusetts has been changing and is expected to change over the remainder of this century.
- - This volume reports the results of the work assessing the likely vulnerabilities of fish and wildlife and their habitats to climate change. The report addresses the following questions:
- How do the SWAP-targeted fish and wildlife habitats rank in terms of their likely comparative vulnerabilities to climate change?
- How will the representation of these habitats in Massachusetts be altered by a changing climate?
- Which vertebrate Species in Greatest Need of Conservation are likely to be most vulnerable to climate change?
- What degree of confidence can be assigned to the above predictions?
- Volume 3 - Habitat Management - This report provides at least partial answers to the second question: how valued ecological resources might be effectively managed as climatic conditions continue to change.
- Habitat Type Vulnerability Evaluations Reference - This document, a sub-set of Volume 2: Habitat and Species Vulnerability, serves as a quick reference to the 17 habitat types evaluated for climate change vulnerability.