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Environmental Assessment

An Assessment of Decision-Making Processes: Evaluation of Where Land Protection Planning Can Incorporate Climate Change Information (Final Report)

Report Information

This report, prepared by the Global Change Research Program (GCRP) in the National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) of the Office of Research and Development (ORD) at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a review of decision-making processes of selected land protection programs. The goal of this report is to assess the feasibility of incorporating climate change impacts into the evaluation of these programs. The assessment revealed that there are several strategies that might be useful for incorporating climate change into decision making. As part of a portfolio of adaptation strategies, land protection may become more important for jurisdictions, particularly to ameliorate climate change impacts on watersheds and wildlife.

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Britta G. Bierwagen
  • by phone at:   703-347-8613
  • by fax at:   703-347-8694
  • by email at:  bierwagen.britta@epa.gov

Background

Cover of the Land Protection Final Report Because land protection decisions are long-term, hard to reverse, and resource intensive, these decisions are important to consider in the context of climate change. Climate change may directly affect the services intended for protection and parcel selection can exacerbate or ameliorate certain impacts. Therefore, when considering long-term acquisition strategies, land protection programs should be considering both the mitigation potential of land through carbon sequestration and the adaptation potential of the land for preserving wildlife migration routes, protecting water sources, and buffering infrastructure and development from storm events.

This report examines the decision-making processes of selected programs that protect land to assess the feasibility of incorporating climate-change impacts into the evaluation of land protection programs. The assessment focused on a sample programs with goals to protect wildlife and watersheds. Most programs reviewed use quantitative evaluation criteria and a bottom-up process for selecting parcels. Almost all programs have one or more advisory committees. The analysis revealed several strategies that might be useful for incorporating climate change into decision making, including new decision-support tools for advisory committees, promulgation of different land protection models (e.g., purchase as opposed to transfer of development rights), and educational outreach on the potential use of land protection within a portfolio of adaptation and mitigation strategies. As jurisdictions learn more about possible climate change impacts, certain land protection strategies may become more desirable and feasible as part of a portfolio of adaptation strategies that ameliorate impacts on watersheds and wildlife.

History/Chronology

Dec 2009EPA released the external review draft for public review and comment.
Sep 2011EPA released the final report to the Global Adaptation Web site.

Citation

U.S. EPA. An Assessment of Decision-Making Processes: Evaluation of Where Land Protection Planning Can Incorporate Climate Change Information (Final Report). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-09/142F, 2011.

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