Incorporating adaptation and resilience into an integrated watershed and coral reef management plan
Gibbs, D., J. West, AND P. Bradley. Incorporating adaptation and resilience into an integrated watershed and coral reef management plan. PLOS ONE . Public Library of Science, San Francisco, CA, , e0253343, (2021). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0253343
This is the second of two papers coming out of David Gibbs' work as an ORISE fellow on the adaptation planning framework/Adaptation Design Tool project. Jordan West was the lead of the project under which this work was carried out.
Changing environmental conditions are forcing natural resource managers and communities to adapt their strategies to account for global shifts in precipitation, temperature, sea level and more, all of which are occurring in addition to local human impacts. Adapting to threats from climate change requires a fundamental shift in the practice of natural resource management through the development of forward-looking “climate-smart” goals and strategies. Here we present a proof-of-concept application of a decision-support tool to help design climate-smart management actions for the watershed and coral reef management plan for Guánica Bay watershed in southwest Puerto Rico. We also explore the connection between adaptation planning and coral reef resilience, using a recently developed Puerto Rico-wide reef resilience assessment. In the first phase of the study, we used the publicly available Adaptation Design Tool to draft initial climate-smart versions of twelve proposed management actions. In the second phase, two actions (dirt road management on steep slopes, and coral reef restoration) were further refined through consultations with local experts to make more detailed design adjustments; this included the option to use information from the coral reef resilience assessment to inform design improvements. The first phase resulted in moderately detailed assessments that broadly accounted for anticipated direct and indirect effects of climate change on the planned management actions. The second phase resulted in more site-specific technical assessments and additional important design details. The expert panel charged with discussing climate-smart reef restoration around Guánica used the reef resilience assessment to guide discussion of reef restoration, highlighting the importance of having such information available for adaptation planning. This study demonstrates how climate change impacts can be effectively incorporated into a management plan at the most granular level of planning and how a structured, formalized process can be as valuable as the resulting adaptation information.