Changing Planet

The WCS Climate Adaptation Fund: Supporting Climate Solutions That Work

By Liz Tully, Molly Cross, and Darren Long

The time to act on climate change is now.

A new report by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) catalogues tangible examples of how to do just that. The report, 14 Solutions to Problems Climate Change Poses for Conservation, features projects that are taking action to meet the challenges of climate change across the U.S. These solutions put WCS on the leading edge of a field where traditional conservation work is no longer sustainable or strategic.

WCS’s Climate Adaptation Fund, made possible with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, is catalyzing on-the-ground, innovative actions to help wildlife and ecosystems adapt to climate change. With its partners, WCS is moving the climate adaptation field past the “paralysis of analysis” on climate and into action.

New York's Ausable River is the site of a climate adaptation project by The Nature Conservancy of New York. Photo ©TNC/NY.
New York’s Ausable River is the site of a climate adaptation project by The Nature Conservancy of New York. Photo ©TNC/NY.

We designed the Climate Adaptation Fund to test and verify solutions to protect the ecological integrity of natural systems. After five years of investing in adaptation projects across the country, our new 14 Solutions report categorizes some of the most common climate challenges impacting diverse landscapes and pairs them with the solutions our grant partners have deployed across the United States.

Featured in this report is the reintroduction of beavers to landscapes where they were once abundant. Beavers help to restore the natural capacity of ecosystems to store water in response to changing availability in streams and other water-based ecosystems impacted by climate change. The Methow Beaver Project, Grand Canyon Trust, and US Forest Service are all employing this solution to slow runoff and increase water storage from the dam building process of beavers.

Support from the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund is helping in the reintroduction of beavers to landscapes where they were once abundant. Photo by Jeff Burrell/WCS.

Another solution discussed in the report strategically targets areas most likely to offer suitable habitat to species as the climate changes. The Nature Conservancy-Texas, the Trust for Public Land, and Trout Unlimited have all focused their habitat restoration efforts on such places. And in yet another initiative, the Lomakatsi Restoration Project, woodland forests are subjected to selective thinning and fire to prepare them for greater wildfire occurrences expected with warming temperatures.

Through the pioneering work of these and other grant partners, WCS is shifting the course of the climate adaptation field from the identification of challenges to the deployment of real solutions.

In recognition of this work, WCS’s Climate Adaptation Fund is proud to be a 2017 recipient of the Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources. This award recognizes organizations and individuals that are exemplary leaders in climate adaptation through their work to promote the resilience of natural systems in a changing climate.

The Trust for Public Land has received funding for climate adapatation work in places like Clearwater Valley, Idaho. Photo ©Melanie Parker.
The Trust for Public Land has received funding for climate adaptation work in places like Clearwater Valley in northern Montana. Photo ©Melanie Parker.

The award is sponsored by the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Climate Adaptation Strategy’s Joint Implementation Working Group in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Forest Service, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

The growth in capacity of successful climate adaptation approaches – as reflected in WCS’s portfolio of applied, real-world solutions – is setting a new bar for the philanthropic community’s efforts to make its investments in this sector sustainable.

The Methow Beaver Project is helping to restore the natural capacity of ecosystems to store water. Photo ©Jeff Burrell.
The Methow Beaver Project is helping to restore the natural capacity of ecosystems to store water. Photo by Jeff Burrell/WCS.

Conservation dollars are anything but ubiquitous and we believe they should be spent on lasting solutions that are created strategically with climate change in mind. With our partners on the ground, we are laying the foundation for a new standard in climate-smart conservation investments. Other funders are learning when, where, and how to include adaptation in all environmental grant-making portfolios.

This new 14 Solutions report demonstrates that WCS and its partners are moving the needle forward on climate change solutions by developing working models of adaptation approaches. These models can be replicated by others and we call on other practitioners, natural resource agencies, and organizations to learn from them so more landscapes and species can benefit.

Liz Tully is program manager for the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund. Molly Cross is Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator for the WCS Americas program. Darren Long is Lead and Director for Climate Adaptation at WCS. 

Learn how these solutions can be applied to your own landscape by reading the full report at

To learn more about the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund visit or follow us on social media at @WCSAdapts.

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.
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