Resilience concerns the ability of a living system to adjust to climate change, moderate potential damages, take advantage of opportunities, or cope with consequences; in short, the capacity to adapt. The Nature Conservancy’s resilience analysis develops an approach to conserve biological diversity while allowing species and communities to rearrange in response to a continually changing climate.
The map shows areas in eastern North America predicted to be more resilient to climate change (green), or more vulnerable to climate change (brown), with respect their type of physical environment. Coastal areas (in gray) need further assessment due to sea level rise. Click here to explore the map using the Resilient Land Mapping Tool.
The Eastern Division of the Nature Conservancy has completed the Resilience Analysis for the Eastern U.S. in two projects:
Eastern Division scientists analyzed 393 million acres of land for resilience, stretching from Florida to Maine and adjacent areas of Canada. Scientists considered individual landscapes such as forests, wetlands, and mountain ranges as collections of neighborhoods where plants and animals reside. Areas with the most complex neighborhoods in terms of topography, elevation ranges, and wetland density were estimated to offer the greatest potential for plant and animal species to “move down the block” and find new homes as climate change alters their traditional neighborhoods. The resilience study also considered the permeability of landscapes, analyzing where roads, dams, development, or other fragmenting features create barriers that prevent plants and animals from moving into new neighborhoods.
Together, the diversity of physical features and the ability for local movement define a landscape’s resiliency.
Scientists for The Nature Conservancy are now conducting similar studies across the United States to identify other natural strongholds with the potential to weather the impacts of climate change. The results of these studies are already being used by The Nature Conservancy, government agencies, and non-profit organizations to create a roadmap of where conservation activities will protect the most resilient landscapes.
Sea level rise, coastal processes and shoreline were not analyzed in the maritime zone.