"As we work to manage some of America's most iconic lands, it's critical to know which natural systems are going to be the most resilient to large-scale changes like climate change," said Clyde Thompson, supervisor of the Monongahela National Forest. "Information from this research can help our management and restoration decisions support the conservation of our nation's heritage."
But even if the stronghold areas and connector zones identified in the study are left intact, they will not be able to save all species living in the region.
"Unfortunately, there will be many species that will not be able to relocate as climate changes makes their neighborhoods unlivable," said Mark Anderson, eastern division science director for The Nature Conservancy. "That is why the ultimate goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stop climate change impacts from worsening. Until that happens, these resilient landscapes offer a much needed safety net to allow many species to survive, interact and ensure healthy natural systems."
"Climate change is a serious issue," said Bartgis. "If we make conservation investments in these places now, we will be able to make changes that will have a long-lasting legacy. People often ask what they can to do to help reduce the impact of climate change. This is something they can do that will have a major impact."
Scientists for The Nature Conservancy are conducting similar studies across the United States to identify other natural strongholds with the potential to withstand the impacts of climate change.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.