Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice

Submitted by Climate Risk Institute | published 8th Sep 2022 | last updated 27th Jan 2023

Climate-Smart Conservation Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice

Executive Summary

This resource was submitted by the Climate Risk Institute for the CanAdapt Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice. 

This article is an abridged version of the original text, which can be downloaded from the right-hand column. Please access the original text for more detail, research purposes, full references, or to quote text.

Climate change already is having significant impacts on the nation’s species and ecosystems, and these effects are projected to increase considerably over time. As a result, climate change is now a primary lens through which conservation and natural resource management must be viewed. How should we prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change on wildlife and their habitats? What should we be doing differently in light of these climatic shifts, and what actions continue to make sense? Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice offers guidance for designing and carrying out conservation in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

Addressing the growing threats brought about or accentuated by rapid climate change requires
a fundamental shift in the practice of natural resource management and conservation. Traditionally, conservationists have focused their efforts on protecting and managing systems to maintain their current state, or to restore degraded systems back to a historical state regarded as more desirable. Conservation planners and practitioners will need to adopt forward-looking goals and implement strategies 
specifically designed to prepare for and adjust to current and future climatic changes, and the associated impacts on natural systems and human communities—an emerging discipline known as climate change adaptation.

The field of climate change adaptation is still in its infancy. Although there is increasing attention focused on the subject, much of the guidance developed to date has been general in nature, concentrating on high-level principles rather than specific actions. It is against this backdrop that this guide was prepared as a means for helping put adaptation principles into practice, and for moving adaptation from planning to action.