WCS Global Initiatives

Climate Smart Conservation

Warning signs of climate change are all around us. Warming temperatures, changes in rainfall regimes, altered river flows, thawing permafrost, and extreme events such as floods and droughts are significantly altering ecosystems throughout the world.  These changes are causing disruptions across species’ ranges, affecting their breeding cycles, feeding, hibernation and migration patterns. It is also affecting millions of local people that are most vulnerable to changes in the ecosystems that sustain them.

As an organization, WCS is uniquely positioned to contribute to the global effort to address the challenges of climate change. WCS’s combination of globally distributed sites in intact land/seascapes, science-based knowledge of ecosystems, and strong partnerships with host governments and communities puts us at the frontline for addressing climate change.

WCS aims to give nature and local communities a chance, by understanding the needs of ecosystems, wildlife and human communities, planning for the changes that are predicted, and, with partners in government and communities, acting upon the best scientific information.

Our Approach

Climate change will present unprecedented threats to all aspects of human society and the natural environment in which it operates.  These impacts, which will significantly affect wildlife conservation, are likely to come about quickly and involve complex interactions and outcomes that will challenge humanity’s ability to manage them.

However, given the absence of precedent for this multifaceted (and globally distributed) threat, the conservation community is still trying to determine the range of appropriate strategies to address the impact of climate change on wildlife and wild places.  A lack of information and planning tools has hampered action to an extent that most conservation action undertaken across Earth is blind to the challenge climate change presents. 

In order to reduce uncertainty about what climate change means for things we care about, the climate change adaptation initiative have a three pronged approach:

Understand the systems vulnerability. WCS works to understand how climate change directly and indirectly affects species, ecosystems, people, and ecosystem services in the sites we work in.

Plan. WCS ensures that the planning frameworks in WCS priority land/seascapes and species is climate smart by incorporating information on climate vulnerability for both species and humans.

Act. Understanding vulnerability and then planning for it is not good enough. WCS recognises the urgent need to implement actions to help species, ecosystems, ecosystem services and people adapt to climate change.

WCS Specialists

Darren Long
Progam Director, Climate Adaptation Fund
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Recent Publications

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