Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forestry (MS)

Administrative Home Department

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

Advisor 1

Robert Froese

Committee Member 1

Yvette Dickinson

Committee Member 2

Christopher Swanston

Abstract

A review of the literature reveals the strengths and limitations of various climate adaptation frameworks and illuminates a general path by which a type of adaptation can be achieved. A number of useful frameworks exist but the number of independent case studies demonstrating the adaptation process in a detailed manner is much more limited. Additionally, components of the various adaptation processes can often seem vague and concepts such as adaptability ill-defined. For land managers approaching climate adaptation independently can be difficult, particularly in the areas of goal creation and vulnerability assessment. Within frameworks where user-defined adaptation goals dictate whether or not adaptability will be achieved, providing guidance on definition of these concepts is particularly important. To explore and improve the usability of climate adaptation concepts we applied them on Michigan Technological University’s Ford Forest. We reviewed the literature on climate change adaptation and applied the knowledge gained to the creation of a climate change adaptation-focused management plan. We assessed the difference between business-as-usual management and climate adaptation and identified where either had occurred in order to 1) better define climate change adaptation operationally, and 2) demonstrate how and where it had occurred within our plan. In doing so we hope to demonstrate explicitly methods for climate change adaptation planning and expand the definition of climate adapted systems.

Through application of the principles of these frameworks, we have found that identifying priority values early in the management planning process while recognizing future climate uncertainty will improve the ability to generate meaningful, effective management actions. Recognition of organizational limitations and potential flaws in the decision-making process can help to improve planning outcomes. We have proposed a logical way to assess decision-making outcomes in a climate adaptation planning context. Vulnerability indices are useful for identifying areas of risk in a forest, but a general focus on adaptability is still necessary to respond to future climate uncertainty. Operationally, climate change adaptation refers to the broad category of planning and management measures undertaken to protect specific values from the negative effects of anthropogenic climate change.

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