DOI, EPA, NOAA announce initiative to prepare natural resources for climate change
The focus of the Resilient Land and Waters Initiative will include Southwest Florida
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of the Interior (DOI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today recognized four collaborative landscape partnerships across the country where Federal agencies will focus efforts with partners to conserve and restore important lands and waters and make them more resilient to a changing climate. Building on existing collaborations, these Resilient Lands and Waters partnerships – located in southwest Florida, Hawaii, Washington and the Great Lakes region – will help build resilience in regions vulnerable to climate change and related challenges. They will also showcase the benefits of landscape-scale management approaches and help enhance the carbon storage capacity of these natural areas.
The selected lands and waters face a wide range of climate impacts and other ecological stressors related to climate change, including sea level rise, drought, wildfire, and invasive species. At each location, Federal agencies will work closely with state, tribal, and local partners to prepare for and prevent these and other threats, and ensure that long-term conservation efforts take climate change into account. Additionally, the initiative will focus on conserving coastal wetlands and marine conservation areas, protecting drinking water for urban areas, and providing habitat for wildlife. These collaborative efforts will include the use of existing tools to benefit the entire landscape as well as the development of new tools. For example, in the Great Lakes, partners are developing a coastal wetland prioritization tool that will help determine where restoration efforts are most needed. And in the He’eia watershed on the island of O’ahu, organizations are using NOAA’s Sea Level Rise Viewer to see maps of the potential impacts of sea level rise on the region.
Southwest Florida: The southwest region of Florida includes a number of diverse habitats such as Everglades’ wetlands, coastal mangroves, sea grasses, oyster reefs, and estuary. Home to endangered species like the Florida panther, the region faces threats on multiple fronts – from increasing urbanization and land use changes to invasive species, rising seas, and shifting weather and temperature patterns. Recognizing Southwest Florida as a resilient landscape will tap into the work of the Cooperative Conservation Blueprint for Florida and Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative, which are leading efforts to address these threats, in partnership with Federal and state agencies, private landowners, the Southwest Florida regional planning council and NGOs. The focus of the project is on the creation and use of voluntary and non-regulatory conservation incentives that can be applied to a comprehensive vision of conservation and restoration priorities across Florida.