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ically. The depletion of native wildlife will have reverberations across the whole spectrum of human existence. As the world’s nations came toBy Patricia Behnke gether to look at the big picture, Florida Fish and Wildlife others are already at work making Conservation Commission good management decisions. A partMyFWC.com nership between four states in the Despite some of the drama that southeastern United States will assist emerged during the United Nations with adaptability, while mitigating Climate Change Conference in Cothe effects of carbon emissions. The penhagen in December, the leaders of FWC, along with agencies from Alathe world’s major polluters – Brazil, bama, Georgia and South Carolina, India, China, South Africa and the received grant money from the U.S. United States – agreed on a comproFish and Wildlife Service to increase mise with a nonbinding agreement. the quality, quantity and connectivity Some thought the agreement a good of priority sandhill sites in the four step; others were not so sure. German states. More than 38,500 acres of sanChancellor Angela Merkel told the dhill habitat will be restored through media that the outcome in Copenprescribed fire, removal of vegetation hagen was a first step toward a not conducive to the habitat and “new world climate order, noththe replanting of longleaf pine. “Doing what we know is healthy for ing more but also nothing less.” This habitat improvement will wildlife and habitat means we are doing be welcoming to species such as That seems to be the consensus among many of the 193 nations gopher tortoises and native bird what is healthy for humans as well.” represented at the summit. species. –Doug Parsons, The accord states that greenIn addition, Florida and AlaFWC climate change coordinator bama are working together, along house gas emissions must be reduced enough to prevent averwith The Nature Conservancy, to age global temperatures from create a natural corridor, which rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. best of the situation. The strategies will assist wildlife as they adapt to It is a major accomplishment to have that help wildlife adapt to a changing climate change by moving to climates such disparate nations agreeing that climate include such things as creatthat are more hospitable. something must be done and giving ing connectivity between habitats This project represents one of the it a name. It is now up to the folks and providing corridors for wildlife to best examples of adaptation and mition the ground to do the real work on travel. Anticipating the fluctuation of gation by providing healthy habitat mitigating climate change impacts the human population moving inland that will sequester carbon emissions while adapting to those changes alalso is crucial to helping both humans rather than disperse them into the ready in place. and wildlife adapt. I received an eatmosphere. As I sift through the reports from mail the other day from someone who “By using appropriate management across the sea, I ponder what it all wrote, “Why are we worrying about to restore habitat quality and connecmeans in terms of Florida and wildlife the wildlife when humans are going tivity, we’re adding to the resiliency of in particular. The Florida Fish and to be having an equally hard time Florida’s wildlife,” said Anna Farmer, Wildlife Conservation Commission’s adapting?” FWC biologist and co-author of the (FWC) climate change working groups It’s something I hear frequently. grant. “This will ensure that during are weighing the strategies that fall And the answer lies in our connection climate change, Florida’s wildlife will into two categories: adaptation or with wildlife. If native wildlife disapbe able to weather the storm.” mitigation, or maybe both. pears, if habitats become unhealthy, It may not be on the world stage, “For a long time we’ve been discussif seas cover what is now livable land, but it is conservation at its best, right ing everything in terms of adaptathere is not much hope for healthy where it counts. tion,” said Doug Parsons, FWC’s humans either, unless we work now to climate change coordinator. “But we adapt. We will be impacted physically, Contact Patricia Behnke at also are involved in mitigation activienvironmentally, socially and econompat.behnke@MyFWC.com ties whenever we take degraded or destroyed habitat and bring it back to a state that will sustain wildlife.” Any habitat that brings back life in and of itself is contributing to the lessening of carbon emissions. In Florida, we’re doing this as a natural part of wildlife management. “Doing what we know is healthy for wildlife and habitat means we are doing what is healthy for humans as well,” Parsons said. “Even though the scientists agree that climate change is a reality, when we manage for resilience and adaptation, we are making wise choices for our future as residents of Florida.” Adaptation goes along with the belief that climate change is beyond changing – all we can do is make the