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Adapting to Climate Impacts in California: The Importance of Civic Science in Local Coastal Planning

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In an era of climate change, adaptive strategies and coastal management actions are needed to support the interdependent goals of maintaining biological diversity, ecosystem health, and the well-being of communities. California is in the forefront of developing science-based planning elements and programs that support a more integrative and adaptive approach to address climate impacts, including the development of new tools such as the designation of marine protected areas. California's coastal cities and counties are developing Climate Action Plans (CAPs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The state has also completed the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy that identifies goals and actions needed to better integrate scientific information into coastal planning. The article emphasizes the need to broaden the scope of local coastal plans to include new biodiversity protection and land-use elements that address the anticipated impacts from climate change on coastal ecosystems. A number of strategies to strengthen the connection between scientists, stakeholders, and local coastal planners are described in the article. In particular, science and scientists should play a crucial role in identifying coastal areas that may serve as “climate-change refugia” where species hit the hardest by climate impacts are projected to relocate.

Keywords: California; biodiversity protection; bioregionalism; climate action plans; climate change; local coastal planning

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institute of Policy Studies, School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand 2: OPEN Project Director, Environmental Defense Center, Santa Barbara, California

Publication date: 2011-05-01

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