Early adopter national forests are beginning to assess and revise forest plans under the 2012 Planning Rule. Forest planners now face a new and immense challenge: integration of climate change into the national forest vision of collaboration and sustainability. Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center researchers collaboratively developed the Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO) specifically to meet this need. Products available through TACCIMO to the early adopters include results from in-depth literature reviews as well as geospatial climate projections. The public-facing website puts all of these resources at the fingertips of the forest planning teams, the public, and other stakeholder groups. As a result, TACCIMO provides both direct support to the planning team as a source of current, credible, and concise science and serves as a resource that promotes the collaborative planning process. Beyond the website, TACCIMO’s climate change outreach specialists have created custom public-oriented factsheets aimed at communicating key findings to stakeholders during public forums for early adopter forests in the Southern Region. Factsheets are now available for El Yunque NF in Puerto Rico, Nantahala and Pisgah NFs in western North Carolina, and Francis Marion NF in coastal South Carolina.

“TACCIMO’s climate change factsheet is just what we needed in terms of level of detail appropriate for collaboration with the public and stakeholders, while still presenting the best available science on climate change required for the assessment.” Ruth Berner, Forest Planner, National Forests in North Carolina

In consultation with national forest planners and managers, the TACCIMO staff is able to assist in facilitating interactions at public forums with key stakeholders from local, state, and federal agencies. Because of the complex and often large-scale issues that natural lands face with climate change, collaboration with neighboring land management groups is key to adaptation planning, such as in the case of Francis Marion NF and the adjacent coastal Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

“The climate change session presented by [TACCIMO’s] Emrys Treasure and Lisa Jennings was very well done and reinforced the work we are accomplishing with the Forest at Cape Romain [National Wildlife Refuge]… Our goal is to create unbroken corridors that will allow coastal species to migrate inland as climate change affects refuge barrier islands and salt marsh.  Francis Marion NF has been a strong partner in this effort.” Raye Nilius, Project Leader, South Carolina Lowcountry Refuges Complex

The communication tools provided by TACCIMO allow early adopter forests to present the complex issue of climate change at the appropriate level of detail for a wide audience.  The combined value of the information and capacity to promote collaboration helps forests be comprehensive in their assessment of best available science while promoting transparency and public involvement. The full assessment of climate change science led by TACCIMO for early adopter forests in the Southern Region will be available as plan assessments are made public in Fall-Winter 2013.