Tami Miketa, Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources
We know small forest landowners work hard every day to do what’s right on the land, and ensure they continue to provide the clean air, water, wildlife habitat, and forest products from their lands. Recently, the President and his Administration recognized this and committed to helping landowners do even more to keep forests healthy, intact, and producing products that are also good for the environment. The report recognizes the role that private forests and forest products play when it comes to enhancing the climate resilience of our precious natural resources. Below is more information on the report and a summary of the strategies to make the nation’s natural resources more resilient to a changing climate.
On October 8, 2014, the White House Council on Environmental Quality released its Priority Agenda for Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources. The document outlines executive actions and public/private programs to mitigate climate change and represents a comprehensive commitment by the federal government to support resilience of our natural resources. In addition to identifying both large and small forest lands as important in absorbing carbon dioxide, the report discusses special markets, investing in wood construction, natural resource conservation actions, new tax policies, and forest inventory.
The report identifies four strategies to make the nation’s natural resources more resilient to a changing climate. Each strategy documents significant progress and provides a roadmap for action moving forward. Below are highlights of these strategies:
- Foster climate-resilient lands and waters — Protect important landscapes and develop the science, planning, tools, and practices to sustain and enhance the resilience of the nation’s natural resources. Key actions include the development of a Resilience Index to measure the progress of restoration and conservation actions and other new or expanded resilience tools to support climate-smart natural resource management. Agencies will identify and prioritize landscape-scale conservation opportunities for building resilience; and fight the introduction and spread of invasive species. Throughout, agencies will evaluate resilience efforts to inform future actions.
- Manage and enhance U.S. carbon sinks — Conserve and restore soils, forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal areas that store carbon. Maintain and increase the capacity of these areas to provide vital ecosystem services alongside carbon storage such as clean air and water, wildlife habitat, food, fiber, and recreation. Key actions include the development of improved inventory, assessment, projection and monitoring systems for important carbon sinks and the development of estimates of baseline carbon stocks and trends to inform resource management. A number of actions will secure the continued health of the nation’s natural resources that provide carbon biosequestration, including forests, agricultural lands, and inland and coastal wetlands.
- Enhance community preparedness and resilience by utilizing and sustaining natural resources — Harness the benefits of nature to protect communities from harm and build innovative 21st century infrastructure that integrates natural systems into community development. Federal agencies will take action to encourage investment in natural infrastructure to improve resilience and enhance natural defenses through new federal guidance on ecosystem services assessment, an actionable research agenda, rigorous program evaluation, and expanded decision support tools and services. Federal agencies will increase assistance to states, tribes and localities interested in pursuing green storm water management solutions and will expand partnerships that reduce wildfire risk and protect critical drinking water supplies, promote irrigation efficiency and water efficiency, launch coastal resilience research projects and create decision support tools for local communities to manage their coastal resources.
- Modernize federal programs, investments, and delivery of services to build resilience and enhance sequestration of biological carbon — Ensure that federal programs, policies, trainings, and investments consider climate resilience and carbon sequestration, and organize the delivery of federal science, tools and services to help resource managers, landowners, and communities optimize their natural resource management decisions in a changing climate. Agencies will incorporate resilience into natural resources planning and management across all existing operations and programs. Climate-smart practices will be reflected in land acquisition programs and financial assistance programs. Agencies will develop agency-specific principles and guidance for considering biological carbon in management and planning decisions. Agencies will enhance coordination among existing regional resilience information and services operations to better meet the needs of American communities, and strengthen the federal workforce through training to build the climate literacy and capability of natural resource managers. Targeted training and grant assistance to tribes will help prepare indigenous communities for the impacts of climate change and support the development of tribal climate adaptation plans to enhance community resilience.
For more information on specific executive actions and private/public/nonprofit sector commitments that support resilient natural resources and the communities that depend on them, click the link to the Council for Environmental Quality fact sheet.