Moving Beyond the Past
For decades, parks were managed to maintain a baseline "natural" condition. But climate change is creating a new and dynamic environment in which we cannot always assume a continuation of historical patterns. Thus, the National Park Service has developed guidance and decision support tools that improve park planning efforts in response to continually shifting conditions. These tools are created, revised and revisited in step with our evolving understanding of climate change.
Existing planning documents, such as National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, park general management plans, and park resource stewardship strategies will incorporate climate change into all phases. To allow parks to better cope with uncertainty in future climate conditions, scenario planning offers an additional approach. When future conditions are uncertain, formulating multiple scenarios and then finding the beneficial actions common to each of the potential futures becomes an efficient approach and will be used for park planning. This approach can best be summed up as being prepared for worst-case scenarios, best-case scenarios, and a range of future alternatives in between.