Developing a Climate Change Policy Evaluation Tool

Analyzing existing policies and planning documents to determine thier capacity to address climate-related impacts to resources along the North Shore

Climate-related environmental changes have the potential to affect the economic livelihoods of nature-based tourism-dependent communities along the North Shore of Minnesota. Local natural and human systems are intricately linked throughout the region. Specifically, as the North Shore’s natural resources and environmental conditions change under altered climatic conditions (e.g., shifts in tree species composition and changes in average daily snow depths in the winter), the behavior of outdoor recreationists and tourists will likely change, subsequently altering the economic health of local communities. Without a region-wide climate change adaptation strategy, resource managers and local community members must utilize existing resource management plans to address the consequences of long-term climatic shifts. This study aims to reveal the synergies between key climate change adaptation planning processes and decision-making processes found within existing local and regional resource management plans created without climate-related impacts to local resources in mind. An existing evaluation tool developed to assess four adaptation planning stages was modified to suit the context of nature-based tourism-dependent communities. The modified management plan evaluation tool was applied to 16 resource management plans across the North Shore region as a case study. Total scores across the sample of plans ranged from a minimum of 14 (21%) to a maximum of 53 (80%) out of 66 possible points. The analysis revealed existing strengths in region-wide planning processes, this includes an abundance of both mandated and voluntary stakeholder engagement processes. The analysis also revealed a general lack of decision-making capabilities provided by the current planning documents. A complementary overlay analysis was performed to reveal the spatial coverage and density of areas covered in the management plans. The overlay analysis allowed for an identification of spatial gaps in planning across the region. Collectively, these methods highlight existing strengths and weaknesses in the North Shore region’s ability to address the effects of climate on environmental and socioeconomic systems.

Related work...