Story: Scenario planning fosters community-supported resource management.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has used scenario planning to address polar bear conservation, and the National Park Service (NPS) has applied scenario planning to questions about marine shipping, port site selection, and climate change in Alaska. In exploring the issue of climate change in parks, NPS asked park managers, other agencies, park-affiliated communities, businesses, and nongovernment organizations: 1) How will climate change impact the landscapes within which the parks are placed over the next 25 to 100 years? 2) How can managers best preserve the natural and cultural resources and other values within their jurisdiction in the face of climate change? Top recommendations included:

  • Building partnerships: with local communities, tribes, other agencies, and cross-borders, with Canada and Russia.
  • Improving our ability to communicate with multiple audiences.
  • Using sustainable facilities, energy sources and practices, improving our capacity for dealing with larger and more frequent emergencies, like fires, flooding, spills, and other disasters
  • More monitoring of wildlife and habitat, water supplies, cultural resources, and traditional knowledge

Because scenario planning enables us to test our assumptions about the future based on plausible hypotheses of what could happen, rather than forecasts or predictions about the future, it is ideally suited for assessing situations with critical and uncontrollable uncertainties.

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