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Assessing Vulnerability of Washington State's Species and Habitats of Greatest Conservation Need
State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) assess the current status of a state’s wildlife and habitats, including identifying the key threats they face and the actions needed to conserve them over the long term. Although many of us recognize the current and likely future impacts of climate change on wildlife and habitats, integrating that information into management and planning continues to be a challenge.
In 2015, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), armed with funding from the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NPLCC), partnered with EcoAdapt to conduct a rapid vulnerability assessment for 30 habitats and 268 species of greatest conservation need. Information from the vulnerability assessment was integrated directly into Washington’s 2015 SWAP, and highlights approximately 35 highly vulnerable species and five highly vulnerable habitats for which climate change presents a significant conservation challenge. The assessment provides an important foundation for state resource managers to begin understanding what fish, wildlife, and habitats are most vulnerable and why.
Following the release of the Washington SWAP, EcoAdapt developed a set of climate vulnerability fact sheets for shrub-steppe, riparian, and east-side and west-side forest habitats and species. Each fact sheet highlights key vulnerability information and adaptation options, and provides a unique tool for communicating climate implications both within the agency and with external partners and stakeholders.