Building Partnerships to Assess Tribal Adaptation to Climate Change and Science Needs in the Southwest

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Native Nations face unique challenges related to climate change. Native Americans have a deep connection to the natural environment within which their livelihoods, cultural identity, and spiritual practices are rooted. Changes to water flow and hydrology, landscapes, and ecosystems, in combination with socio-economic and other factors, amplify tribal vulnerabilities to climate change. In the So...

Native Nations face unique challenges related to climate change. Native Americans have a deep connection to the natural environment within which their livelihoods, cultural identity, and spiritual practices are rooted. Changes to water flow and hydrology, landscapes, and ecosystems, in combination with socio-economic and other factors, amplify tribal vulnerabilities to climate change. In the Southwest, tribes are already experiencing a range of impacts that are at least partially related to climate change. They include serious water quality and supply issues in the context of prolonged drought; reduced ability to grow or collect important traditional crops and raw materials; loss of forest resources from large and landscape-transforming wildfires exacerbated by drought, aridity, and insect infestations; and health impacts from heat waves, dust storms, and smoke from wildfires.



The Southwest Climate Science Center is partnering with the University of Arizona Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS) to leverage previously existing and newly developing tribal engagement capacity within CCASS and to help identify emergent opportunities to support tribes in adapting to climate change. Through this project, CCASS is conducting a preliminary assessment of tribal interest and capacity for adaptation across the Southwest via interviews with selected tribal leaders and resource managers. In November 2015, CCASS also partnered with the Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative to hold a meeting with tribal members that focused on successful tribal climate adaptation plans, lessons learned, traditional ecological knowledge, and tribal adaptation activities across the U.S. The CCASS project team is also developing a set of products to help tribes use “scenario planning” in their climate adaptation plans, allowing the tribes to consider different possible future scenarios in a changing climate.



This partnership is being continued in 2016 through the project: Continued Partnerships to Increase Tribal Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation Planning