Building Climate Readiness in Nature-Based Tourism-Dependent Communities along the North Shore of Lake Superior: Project Overview and Development of an Adaptation Plan Evaluation Matrix
In this presentation, we provide an overview of an ongoing multidisciplinary, mixed-methods community-based research and outreach project focused on assessing and building climate readiness. This investigation of destination risk and adaptive capacity will focus on three nature-based tourism-dependent communities along Lake Superior's north shore: Grand Marais, Lutsen and Finland. The project's specific objectives are to: 1) assess adaptive capacity; 2) model climate-hydrologic impacts; 3) develop ecological destination risk scenarios; 4) measure and model tourism demand; 5) develop sociological destination risk scenarios; 6) integrate data into a series of socio-economic systems destination risk scenarios; and 7) create and deliver geovisualization-based decision support tools for adaptive planning. We highlight each specific objectives' role in developing more informed sector- and place-based solutions to the challenges facing coastal communities impacted by changing climatic conditions.
We also provide initial detailed results of an evaluation of all of the region's hazard mitigation and emergency management plans, land use management plans and climate adaptation plans. The evaluation provides a baseline understanding of the extent of federal, state, municipal and private entities' proactive planning efforts. The evaluation process is essential to identifying weaknesses in the region's collective ability to anticipate and respond to known climate-related environmental stressors. The plan evaluation involved three complementary components: 1) identifying the biophysical and socio-economic resources addressed by each plan; 2) spatially mapping the extent of resources covered by those plans; and 3) gauging the amount and sources of financial capital dedicated to plan implementation and management. These three components are synthesized in a climate change adaptation plan evaluation matrix. The matrix serves as a visualization tool to identify specific strengths and weaknesses in the region's existing statutory capacity to respond local ecological and economic change. The matrix will be used in subsequent collaborative workshops and focus groups with local stakeholders as part of the project's community-based outreach and engagement efforts. We present on the current status of these efforts as well as ongoing work to test the external validity of the matrix in other regionally distinct nature-based tourism-dependent communities.
The climate readiness project as a whole identifies and models key assets, vulnerabilities and economic impacts associated with environmental changes driven by increasingly variable climatic conditions. In addition, it aims to build capacity for adaptive planning and increase climate readiness in the communities by: a) identifying culturally and economically significant ecosystem services at risk; and b) working with local community members and key stakeholders to identify potential opportunities to either mitigate or cope with those risks. The development of a climate change adaptation plan evaluation matrix plays a key role in this process as it provides a comprehensive yet easily interpretable understanding of the region's existing capacities to respond to known climate-related environmental changes, such as alterations the characteristics and quality of existing recreational amenities. The climate change adaptation plan evaluation matrix, developed to evaluate existing planning documents, can have a broader impact when employed to evaluate other coastal communities and adaptation planning processes.