Image: Sandhill Cranes at the Consumnes River Preserve by BLM / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

California is home to one of 25 global hotspots for conservation, because of both its remarkable biodiversity and the significant threat of losing habitats and wildlife species unique to California.[1] Climate change is one of the biggest threats to conserving the rich biodiversity found in this state. Species and ecosystems in California are valued both for their intrinsic worth and for the services they provide to society. These services include air purification, water filtration, flood attenuation, food provision, and recreational opportunities such as fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing; all of these can only be maintained if ecosystems are healthy, robust, and can function properly under the impacts of climate change. Furthermore, it is important to note that California ecosystems also provide a means to mitigate climate change via natural sequestration of carbon. In this area, adaptation and mitigation efforts are intertwined, and many activities to build habitat and species resilience will also support the reduction of greenhouse gases.

In order to increase biodiversity and habitat resilience, agencies should continue to incorporate the latest climate science, projected and observed impact information for marine and terrestrial wildlife, and adaptation principles into conservation planning efforts to ensure climate-smart actions are taken at the local, regional, and state-wide scales. Specific climate vulnerability information for species and habitats should be incorporated when available, and that information can then be used to inform conservation priorities and actions. It will be essential to consider habitat connectivity and protecting critical areas of habitat reserves to protect species (both terrestrial and aquatic), as current habitats change and new habitats develop. Climate-smart restoration and enhancement can also be used to increase the resilience of degraded habitats and to reduce vulnerability to climate change. Working with a multitude of partners and stakeholders will continue to be crucial; sharing data and experience between partners will help to ensure that common pitfalls are avoided, and that benefits to species and habitats are maximized.

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