Integrating Climate Change Considerations into Natural Resource Planning—An Implementation Guide

Techniques and Methods 6-C2
By: , and 


Executive Summary

Climate change vulnerability assessments and associated adaptation strategies and actions connect existing climate science with possible effects on natural resources and highlight potential responses. However, these assessments, which are commonly generated for large regional areas, suggest management options in general terms without guidance for choosing among strategies and actions under specific circumstances. Meanwhile, land and resource management plans1 often address smaller geographies, and management actions must address specific rather than general situations. Thus, there is a need for tools that enable managers to bridge the gap by downscaling assessments, plans, and data generated at regional scales to identify adaptation actions and strategies appropriate for smaller management units and project-level planning.

To address this need, we have developed a tool–the Climate Adaptation Integration Tool (CAIT)–that helps resource managers use climate science and assessments, along with local knowledge, to identify those adaptation strategies and actions most appropriate for a given site or situation. Specifically, we provide:

    1. Guidance for acquiring and using downscaled climate change projections;
    2. Procedures for using these data to answer Critical Questions to make site-specific determinations of the appropriate management approach (specifically, resistance, resilience, transition, realignment, or no action);
    3. Lists of potential adaptation strategies and actions appropriate to the chosen management approach; and
    4. Supplemental information regarding adaptation strategies and actions to help managers choose among them.

    The CAIT is meant to help managers integrate climate change science and assessments into management decisions. The CAIT also serves as a way for managers to document how they have incorporated climate change information into their decision-making and why certain actions were selected over others. A particular strength of the CAIT is that it leads to potential solutions (that is, adaptation strategies and actions) without inflexibly prescribing actions. This flexibility enables managers to incorporate other factors and constraints to create workable management plans and projects that strengthen their ability to achieve long-term conservation goals.

    Suggested Citation

    Kershner, J., Woodward, A., and Torregrosa, A., 2020, Integrating climate change considerations into natural resource planning—An implementation guide: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 6, chap. C2, 58 p.,

    ISSN: 2328-7055 (online)

    Table of Contents

    • Executive Summary
    • Introduction and Objectives
    • Concepts Informing The Climate Adaptation Integration Tool
    • Evaluating Climate Data Across Scales
    • Developing The Climate Adaptation Integration Tool (CAIT)
    • Using CAIT to Evaluate and Select Climate Adaptation Actions for Natural Resource
    • Planning
    • Additional Tool To Support Climate-Informed Natural Resource Management Planning:
    • Ameliorates Vulnerability Table
    • Case Study: Recreation Opportunities
    • Case Study: Rangeland Vegetation
    • Discussion
    • Glossary
    • Acknowledgments
    • References Cited
    • Appendixes 1–5
    Publication type Report
    Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
    Title Integrating climate change considerations into natural resource planning—An implementation guide
    Series title Techniques and Methods
    Series number 6-C2
    DOI 10.3133/tm6C2
    Year Published 2020
    Language English
    Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
    Publisher location Reston, VA
    Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Western Geographic Science Center
    Description v, 58 p.
    Online Only (Y/N) Y
    Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
    Additional publication details