Mitch Eaton, Southeast Climate Science Center; Jennifer Costanza, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, NCSU; Fred Johnson, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, USGS; Julien Martin, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, USGS; Laura Taylor, Center for Environmental and Resource Economic Policy and Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, NCSU
Total Planned Funding: $884,485
Project Completion: August 2019. This project is Phase II of Understanding Conservation Management Decisions in the Face of Sea-Level Rise Along the U.S. Atlantic Coast
Implements Science Plan Theme: 2, 4 & 5
LCC Partners: South Atlantic
In 2015 the U.S. Geological Survey entered a partnership with the South Carolina Low-Country and North Carolina Coastal Plain National Wildlife Refuge Complexes with the intent of helping refuges make more effective planning and adaptation decisions in response to climate change and other global-change processes. Recognizing the necessity of expanding management objectives, the partnership will engage with local communities and appropriate agencies and organizations to: (a) identify stakeholders with an interest in the effects of global change on the refuge and their community, (b) assess their current levels of knowledge, interest and engagement, (c) determine which of their objectives the refuge could help attain and which may be in conflict with the refuge mission, and (d) understand how those objectives might influence decisions made by the refuge and other decision makers.
Initially, the partnership will focus on predicting the effects of land-use and climate-driven changes on the physical structure and function of refuges and their land/seascapes over the next 30-50 years. The partnership is interested in evaluating how these changes will affect the refuges’ ability to achieve their specified mission and to serve the public good. Thus, the partnership intends to explicitly link possible future conditions, the associated production of ecosystem goods and services, and how changes in these goods and services are valued by the public and the agencies responsible for stewardship of public resources. Ultimately the partnership hopes to understand how the refuge managers’ ability to meet their objectives is influenced by the larger social-ecological system in which the refuges are embedded, and how desirable futures can be attained (and undesirable futures avoided). Such lessons could be immensely valuable to refuges and other public lands facing diminished functionality due to global change processes.
Project goals are:
1) to produce actionable science to predict the impacts of global change processes on coastal resource dynamics, using state-of-the-art technologies,
2) develop plausible scenarios of the future that can serve as a basis for communication among diverse stakeholders,
3) foster greater understanding and more collaborative decision making among those that benefit from the ecosystem goods and services produced by these locales such that effective adaptation planning can continue beyond the duration of this short-term project.