2A.1 Scenario planning: from construction of narratives to evaluation of alternatives

Monday, 18 July 2011: 1:30 PM
Salon A (Asheville Renaissance)
Holly C. Hartmann, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Climate changes associated with global warming pose myriad risks in natural resource management. The National Park Service (NPS) faces daunting challenges in addressing prospective climate change impacts; in some parks, changes threaten the existence of emblematic park attributes. Each park faces unique risks, reflecting its natural, cultural, and historical attributes, its purpose as defined in establishing authorization, the resources available for planning and implementing adaptive responses, and the uncertainty of local climate change impacts. The NPS is using scenario planning as an approach for incorporating climate change risks and adaptation within existing resource management frameworks. The NPS process emphasizes development of scenarios diverging across multiple dimensions to plausibly push the boundaries of commonplace assumptions about the future rather than simply bracketing a moderate climate projection with higher and lower extremes. This process requires engaging a broad range of park management and science specialists, with participation changing flexibly as the process addresses different issues - a challenge because participants are typically scattered across many states, yet scenario development requires repeated iterations of data analysis and extensive discussion. Internet-based tools (e.g., webinars, diagramming tools) have been useful in elucidating a common understanding of linkages between driving forces and anticipated impacts, management and adaptation challenges, and planning processes. Face-to-face workshops then focus on vetting the scenarios, exploring adaptation strategies and potential shifts in management objectives, and connections to extant planning and management processes. Strategic staging of prospective adaptation options maintains future flexibility to change priorities as conditions evolve. Use of project management techniques can identify risks and tradeoffs associated with the choice of specific adaptation options. Rating of adaptation options across management objectives provides a means to explore the consequences of shifting to new management objectives, while also tracking a diverse portfolio of potential adaptation options.
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