Photo: National Audubon Society
“…evidence for the warming of the climate system is unequivocal. The potential…poses a significant challenge for biodiversity conservation.”
-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international scientific body tasked to evaluate the risk of climate change caused by human activity
CLIMATE CHANGE IS HERE
In order to adapt for regional resilience (healthy ecosystems, economic viability, quality of life), everything we do must be in consideration of the impact of our changing climate.
What we know reflects uncertainties within inherently complex climate challenges. Extremes are expected – more rain when not needed, less when it is, as well as wide shifts in temperatures. See projected local impacts of climate change.
ADAPTATION IS KEY
While some Chicago Wilderness activities also attain various levels of mitigation benefits, our primary climate focus is adaptation. How do we protect and help our ecosystems adapt? How do we implement (altering if necessary) conservation strategies in the face of a changing climate?
Important issues, identified by the research and experience of our members, set the stage for practical region-wide work that actively pursues and ensures a resilient region. Climate change is expected to impact the Chicago Wilderness region’s natural resources in a variety of areas, such as:
- abundance and distribution of plants and animals, leading to overall disruption of ecological communities
- water resources - including reduced water levels in streams, wetlands, and lakes; more frequent flooding due to heaver rain events; and lower water quality
- timing of natural events: blooming, leaf drop, nesting and egg laying, migration, onset of hibernation, etc.
- gradual shifting of mobile species: generally northward as temperatures increase; and
- increased threats from invasive species, and insect and disease pathogens
Chicago Wilderness alliance conclusions are based on rigorous review of up-to-date scientific information, including region-specific projections as well as modeling and tracking of potential impacts on nature.
Chicago Wilderness work is informed by a deep body of alliance research and collective thinking. Examples of work created by the alliance include:
Biodiversity Recovery Plan
Climate Change and Regional Biodiversity: A Preliminary Assessment and Recommendations for Chicago Wilderness Member Organizations
Climate Action Plan for Nature
Climate Change Update to the Biodiversity Recovery Plan
Chicago Community Climate Action Toolkit
Climate Considerations Guidebook
Climate Adaptation Guidebook for Municipalities in the Chicago Region
Webinar on Climate Adaptation Planning in the Great Lakes: Two Case Studies from the Chicago Wilderness Region
“A central reason for considering climate change is that, in many instances, it will be cheaper and less disruptive to plan for anticipated conditions than to retrofit or rebuild later.”
-Climate Community Climate Action Toolkit
By protecting, improving, and expanding our region’s natural areas, Chicago Wilderness members are making our lands and waters more resilient – capable of responding to and recovering from stresses.
Well thought-out strategies with climate considerations at the core are a mandate for our work. An adaptive, regional climate approach requires innovative solutions and sustained commitment to our region. The Chicago Wilderness alliance is poised to develop and implement innovative solutions that will contribute to a better quality of life in the region.
To help protect our region’s plants, animals and at-risk species, our alliance has organized a vast network of conservation experts to create tools, strategies, and local solutions to climate change that can have a global impact. See our Focus Areas for information about our priority work over the next five years.
GLASS HALF FULL – THE ONLY WAY TO OPERATE
The Chicago Wilderness alliance, at its core, believes that substantially contributing to regional resiliency achieves many benefits and can ensure a sustained, improved quality of life for our human and natural habitats. The conservation movement has often struggled to demonstrate relevance of our work to broader audiences, and our efforts that contribute to a resilient region serve as a linchpin in establishing that relevance.