Ordering the Path to Wildlife Resilience
For nearly all organisms, connectivity is key. From small voyages to long, creatures must travel to find food, water, a mate, or a suitable patch of soil to put down roots. They need to avoid predators, wildfire, flood, and other hazards. This means they need wild pathways — corridors of trees, streams, meadows, or other habitat that allows them to move through a landscape increasingly fragmented by human alteration. And as climate change upends formerly stable patterns, wildlife’s need for corridors must also shift, often in complex ways, in order for each species and ecosystem to remain resilient.
To help land managers respond to the increasing challenges of preserving useful wildlife corridors, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recently published a comprehensive collection of resources called the Connectivity and Climate Change Toolkit.
“It is useful to have compilations like this; for any individual organization or agency to start from scratch is a lot of work,” says Grant Ballard, chief science officer with the conservation non-profit Point Blue. “Some of the things identified I hadn’t seen before, and some are things we created that they used.”
While the need for wildlife corridors for everyday travel isn’t a new idea, planning for longer term shifts in the location and extent of habitats due to warming temperatures or increasing flooding is. “In light of climate change,” the report says, “connectivity is recognized for its potential to provide additional benefits for resiliency and adaptation strategies for fish and wildlife.”
The publication is broken up into categories such as Project Planning, Adaptation Strategies, and Considerations by Systems. Each category offers a summary of key resources, and a case study. From Forest Service guidance on road-stream crossing issues to software recommendations for how to plan fish-friendly culverts or predict connectivity, the toolkit has a diverse array of resources.
“This is the first time I have seen anything like this geared toward public agencies,” Ballard says. “It shows the intention to take a long view and do the work — so that is encouraging.”
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