National Park Service shifts mission due to climate change

Via Flickr

Eleanor Hildebrandt | May 20, 2021

The National Park Service is shifting its focus to protect more land because climate change is creating new environmental concerns. With the planet warming, the service’s goal of absolute conservation of land is no longer viable in many cases.

In late April, the National Park Service updated its guidance for park managers in the 21st century. The new research and guidelines the service released this spring explains how to plan for worst-case scenarios and how to decide what species or landscapes to prioritize when necessary.

The report includes two peer-reviewed papers that focus on different tools park managers and ecologists can look towards as the environmental transformation continues.

As the New York Times reported, the new report asks park managers to consider transformation as “the prevailing theme” of their approach to protecting federally owned land. Park ecologists and managers are asked to actively choose what to save and what to shepherd through an environmental transition due to climate change. They are also tasked with choosing what will vanish from national parks forever.

One of the main focuses of the document is forests due to the rising number of wildfires in the United States.

The report looked at various future scenarios to ensure different parks with diverse species adapt to future changes. It also focuses on the National Park Service’s resources, stewardship responsibilities, and how they can be beneficial to the transition.

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