Ecosystem Services and Climate Change Planning: An Awareness-, Analysis-, Action-based Assessment of Local Planning Efforts
Gelino, Kristen Carole
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Climate adaptation planning is a developing field both in the United States and globally. Ecosystem-based adaptation, an emerging concept that examines the role of ecosystem services in reducing human vulnerability to climate change, has been touted as a cost-effective, no- or low-regret option that can be implemented in the short-term. Most research concerning ecosystem-based adaptation has been focused on the developing world with little attention given to ecosystem-based adaptation uptake in the United States. This research examines the extent to which ecosystem services are being considered in local climate change planning initiatives that have been produced by local governments in the United States since 2011 and the extent to which these documents have identified actionable opportunities for ecosystem-based adaptation strategies. Fifteen planning documents were assessed utilizing an `awareness, analysis, action' framework. Of these documents 93 percent showed an awareness of ecosystem services and the impacts climate change may have on these services and 87 percent identified at least one action intended to protect or enhance the ability of ecosystem services to reduce social vulnerabilities. However, 66 percent of documents examined did not include enough detail about identified actions to be considered strong from an implementation perspective. Results suggest that ecosystem-based adaptation has entered the climate change planning dialogue in the United States, but more guidance is needed to assist local governments in the identification and implementation of ecosystem-based adaptation strategies.
- Urban planning