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Wildlife Adaptation to Climate Change Focus of New Grant Program

The focus of the new grants program, which formerly operated as the WCS Wildlife Action Opportunities Fund, will be to fund projects that address increasing threats posed by climate change to ecosystems and wildlife throughout the United States.

“While people are generally familiar with reports of retreating sea ice affecting polar bears in the Arctic, many are now realizing that climate-change is impacting wildlife habitat throughout North America and has become a priority conservation issue,” said WCS North America Program Director Jodi Hilty. “This grant program will provide critical resources to the wildlife conservation community as it grapples with how best to address the growing climate challenge.”

The Fund will award $4 million over the next two years to support applied, on-the-ground climate adaptation projects implementing conservation actions that enable ecosystems and their inhabitants to better cope with these changing conditions. These actions may include: demonstrating new land management techniques for climate adaptation, creating new conservation areas to expand core wildlife habitat, assuring connectivity for wildlife to move across landscapes, and protecting keystone species vulnerable to climate change.

Temperature changes of just a few degrees can have broad, and potentially devastating, implications for wildlife and wild places. Already, scientists are seeing many indicators of harmful climate change impacts including species migrating out of their historical ranges as habitat becomes unsuitable, and species being increasingly threatened by new diseases and predators. The adaptation projects made possible by the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund will increase the adaptive capacity of wildlife and their habitats to new conditions precipitated by climatic changes.

Through the new WCS Climate Adaptation Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society is building on an established track record over the past four years of funding critical wildlife conservation and climate adaptation projects. Examples of recent adaptation work include:

• WCS’s work in Western Montana to reintroduce beavers to parts of the Big Hole Valley so that these natural engineers will create ponds to increase summer water storage for fish and ranchers.

• On-the-ground actions being implemented by The Nature Conservancy in North Carolina to protect wildlife through restoration of natural habitat on the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds—areas highly threatened by rising sea levels.

• The Trust for Public Land’s Climate Conservation Strategy conserving more than 52,000 acres of critical wildlife habitat in the Crown of the Continent and Cabinet-Purcell eco-regions of northern Montana. This work is protecting headwater streams that provide critical refuge for cold-water fish species that are vulnerable to climate change while securing a water supply for neighboring communities.

• The collaborative effort of the Center for Native Ecosystems and Colorado Division of Wildlife to map data on wildlife migration corridors, habitat connectivity, and climate change. This project creates a powerful framework to promote wildlife resilience and a model for other states to follow.

For more information on the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund and how to apply for grants, please go to:

Interested organizations should carefully review the guidelines outlined in the Request for Proposals (RFP) and submit the required pre-proposal application no later than 5:00 PM MST on Friday, April 29, 2011.

| Newswise Science News
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