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Evaluating the adaptive capacity of cultural landscapes to climate change: Incorporating site-specific knowledge in National Park Service vulnerability assessments

  • Author(s): Johnson, Christopher E.
  • Germano, Vida
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license
Abstract

Cultural landscapes are complex systems of natural and cultural resources that are affected by changes in climatic and non-climatic factors. The National Park Service, Pacific West Region, has developed a vulnerability assessment (VA) model for identifying, evaluating, and responding to the effects of climate change to cultural landscapes by utilizing peer-reviewed data and local knowledge to inform management strategies that can reduce the vulnerability of cultural landscapes to deterioration and loss. Key to developing site-specific adaption plans is a VA based on analysis of the significance, exposure, and sensitivity of landscape characteristics and features, and identification of the management capacity to reduce the sensitivity of the cultural landscape to change. The resulting assessment compares the level of projected vulnerability of the landscape as a whole and of each characteristic or feature under evaluation, and the identification of methods for minimizing the sensitivity of the cultural landscape to climate change. This paper provides an overview of the VA model through case studies from the state of Washington, the territory of Guam, and Tinian, commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

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