Scientists overwhelmingly agree that the climate is changing and that the changes are largely due to increased levels of carbon emissions into the atmosphere that are caused by human activities. The recommended response from society to climate change involves two sets of activities: mitigation and adaptation. Adaptation includes activities that attempt to adjust or respond to changes to the environment caused by climate change. For wildlife, a consensus is forming around an approach to adaptation planning that would improve the ability of an ecosystem to resist dramatic changes to habitats; build resilience into the ecosystem to recover from extreme weather events and changes in temperature and precipitation that may cause increased floods, wildfires, insect outbreaks, etc.; and lastly build realignment into our ecosystems through wildlife corridors or other connections through matrix landscape types that allow species to shift their ranges and transition into new areas when the need becomes inevitable. This commentary outlines a climate change adaptation strategy for wildlife within an eight-state region (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio) of the Midwest United States (US) focused on the design of an interconnected green infrastructure network of natural areas that helps refine future wildlife habitat conservation priorities while also providing other natural and human benefits to residents of the Midwest US. A landscape-scale green infrastructure network will be developed for this area within the next 18–24 months thanks to a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to the eight Midwest states, and the strategy outlined here serves as the foundation for implementing effective wildlife habitat protection projects in response to climate change.
Environmental Practice 14:45–56 (2012)