Toolkit: Adaptation

Adaptation is an adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities. National parks are responding to climate change by adjusting to existing or expected climate change effects. Adaptation includes social, economic, and ecological responses.
NPS Adaptive Planning Framework
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Adaptive Planning
An adaptive planning framework is the NPS conceptual approach for considering climate change in park planning and management. The NPS planning framework has been changed to better reflect new park planning needs by incorporating a more flexible design that supports monitoring and adaptive management. Considering climate change in park planning and management demands this flexibility to accommodate our ever-changing understanding of climate change through observations and future scientific projections.
The interagency Climate Smart Conservation guide may also be useful to help understand adaptation planning.
Coastal Adaptation [PDF]
The National Park Service’s 85 ocean and coastal parks and over 12,000 miles of shoreline currently experience effects from climate change. Climate change will amplify the existing dynamic nature of coastal and shoreline areas, threatening park resources, infrastructure, and public recreational opportunities. “Anticipatory planning” and engagement with local communities to consider new, more sustainable ways to provide visitor services and protect heritage resources in these dynamic environments are critical

Cultural Resources [PDF]
Observed and projected climate change trends are a great concern as these forces accelerate, intensify, and combine in new ways that are increasing our rate of loss of cultural resources. These trends heighten the urgency for the NPS to survey climate-vulnerable areas, develop appropriate preservation and documentation techniques, and learn from the history and prehistory these resources contain. With so many cultural resources entrusted in our care, the NPS provides leadership nationwide and management in regards to climate change.

Scenario Planning
Scenario planning, also referred to as scenario thinking, is a process managers and planners can use to explore how climate change may affect national parks in the future. Scenario planning can help simplify and combine complex projections and wide-ranging research into a format that allows us to recognize, adapt to, and take advantage of changes over time.

Last updated: February 5, 2024


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