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Obama Administration Releases Plan to Help Animals Adapt to Climate Change

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Mar 27, 2013 10:41 AM EDT
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After repeatedly stating that a 17 percent reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2005 levels is still in reach, the Obama administration released a 30-page draft report Thursday detailing exactly how it plans on going about this. (Photo : REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed)

The Obama Administration released Tuesday the first nationwide strategy designed to help all levels of government safeguard animals and plants against climate change.

Called the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, the plan, though optional, calls for those in power everywhere to engage in specified steps within the next five years. These steps, according to a press release issued by the Department of Interior (DOI), are specifically designed to address "changing species distribution and migration patterns, the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species, the inundation of coastal habitats with rising sea levels, changing productivity of our coastal oceans, and changes in freshwater availability."

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In particular, the strategy is focused on seven key areas of conservation and protection. As stated in the press release, these include the following:

- Conserve habitat to support healthy fish, wildlife, and plant populations and ecosystem functions

- Manage species and habitats to protect ecosystem functions and provide sustainable commercial, subsistence, recreational and cultural use

- Enhance capacity for effective management

- Support adaptive management through integrated observation and monitoring and use of decision support tools

- Increase knowledge and information on impacts and responses of fish, wildlife, and plants

- Increase awareness and motivate action to safeguard fish, wildlife, and plants

- Reduce non-climate stressors to help fish, wildlife, plants and ecosystems to adapt

The press release further states that the plan is based on "extensive national dialogue that spanned nearly two years and was shaped by comments from more than 55,000 Americans." Moreover, it is designed to build off of efforts already underway by federal, state and tribal governments throughout the country. In all, it includes input from 51 non-governmental organizations, 17 government entities and 5 tribes.

Advocates of the plan are quick to point out that the reasons to address the issue of climate change and environment conservation are based in more than a desire to "go green."

According to the DOI, hunting, fishing and wildlife-related recreation generations $122 billion annually. In addition, the U.S. seafood industry adds an estimated 1 million jobs to the economy, and visits to public land 388,000.

"Fish and wildlife or plants, our land, our habitat, is not just something we feel good about because we like nature, but in fact they're providing a lot of services to us - jobs, recreational opportunities, we're seeing that they provide wonderful protection from storm surges, that the wetlands are filtering our water, providing clean water," David Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. DOI said. 

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