Both people and nature need significantly greater investment to adapt to climate emergencies that are damaging human communities and natural habitats across the world, according to Wildlife Conservation Society adaptation scientists.

“We cannot rely solely on mitigation,” said Lauren Oakes, a WCS conservation scientist. “Climate change is already damaging many human communities and many parts of the natural world. We need more investment to protect and restore intact and healthy ecosystems that help people adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.”

Added Molly Cross, a WCS adaptation scientist and Science Director for the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund: “This latest assessment by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in combination with their 2020 Adaptation Gap Report, makes a clear call to action for greater investment in nature-based approaches for reducing climate risks and vulnerabilities.”

Oakes and Cross offered these comments upon the release of the UNEP Adaptation Gap Report for 2021, which suggests that the growing likelihood that the global temperature rise will exceed 1.5°C in the next two decades should be met with greater planning for climate adaptation approaches.

WCS works extensively in the area of climate adaptation.

With funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation(DDCF), the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund has supported implementation of over 100 conservation projects designed to help wildlife and ecosystems, and the people that depend on them, adapt to changing climate.Lessons learned from these projects are already helping conservation specialists better understand the effects of climate change in a range of habitats and are advancing best practices in adaptation practice.

Examples of these projects include:

A National Wildlife Federation project converting 50 vacant lots in Philadelphia to climate-resilient pollinator meadows to protect pollinator populations through changing climate conditions, increase stormwater retention, and reduce urban heat island effects.

In Minnesota, with a Nature Conservancy project, reforestation of recently harvested forestlands with a combination of native tree species expected to thrive in warmer and drier conditions will increase the capacity of northern forests, and local livelihoods that depend on them, to adapt to climate change.

An American Forests project restoring 270 acres of degraded ranch lands in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, resulting in 100,000 tons of carbon stored over 50 years and a climate-adapted habitat for local species, 11 of which are endangered.