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Climate Adaptation Tools for Wetland Conservation and Management

Non-forested wetlands are important habitats that can also help reduce climate change impacts within watersheds. The USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science has partnered with the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts to create climate adaptation resources specific to non-forested wetland conservation and management in the Midwest.

Effects from climate change

Wetlands are natural ecosystems that are inherently vulnerable to climate change impacts. The vulnerability of a wetland to regional climate changes is influenced by local characteristics such as soils, topography, location in the watershed, current and past land uses. Climate change will not affect all parts of a watershed in the same way. A changing climate can intensify existing stressors to wetland ecosystems and bring about changes that can affect water quality and habitats. For instance, extreme precipitation events can trigger erosion, sedimentation, and nutrient runoff to wetlands. These events can degrade water quality, and fuel the transportation and growth of non-native invasive plants and weedy native species. The use of climate vulnerability assessments for natural communities can help managers characterize and assess site risks.

Adaptation in Action

There is no single answer on how to best adapt to climate change. Specific adaptation actions will vary by location and in consideration of the magnitude of climate impacts, the capacity of the ecosystem to cope with changes and the values and resources of local communities.

To help managers thoughtfully consider how to respond to the effects of climate change on wetland ecosystems, the USDA Northern Forests, NIACS Climate Change Response Framework, and Wisconsin initiative for Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) have designed a menu of climate adaptation strategies and approaches relevant to the conservation and management of non-forested wetlands. 

Download the Climate Adaptation Strategies and Approaches for Conservation and Management of Non-Forested Wetlands

Featured Resources

Vulnerability assessments can help land managers understand the potential effects of climate changes on ecosystems. The Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) has summarized climate impacts relevant to wetland ecosystems that may provide relevant insight to the management of ecosystems outside of Wisconsin. These resources can help land managers when assessing site vulnerability:

NRCS Training module available to all

Wetland vulnerability to climate change and adaptation responses were combined in the recent Association of State Wetland Managers NRCS Conservation Planners Training Webinar series. The webinar explored how additional complexity is caused by regional issues and focused on how conservation planners and others working with wetlands can use tools to integrate climate considerations into land management.

View the training module