Organizations, like species, must evolve. If they don't, if they ignore changes in the world around them, they risk becoming ineffective, or worse yet, irrelevant. At the Wild Resource Conservation Program we are evolving to address the changing threats facing our native species by taking a leadership role that goes beyond our traditional grant making and education projects.
WRCP was founded 28 years ago to address a specific need – to fund the study and conservation of wild plants and non-game species. We continue to fill that mandate, but a lot has changed since 1982. Many of the threats facing species back then – habitat loss, pollution, invasive species – are still with us today. But now we add to that an even greater threat; one that also magnifies the others, climate change.
Because we work with and support the research community, the conservation community, and the education community, we can influence, connect and integrate those three disciplines in a way few else can. We did that on April 30, when we convened Pennsylvania's first climate change adaptation conference.
We brought together 80 people from 37 different organizations to discuss conserving species and natural systems in a changing climate. Attendees came from as far away as Maine and included universities, conservation organizations, state agencies and federal agencies. Following a morning of presentations on the latest climate change adaptation research and a talk by U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, the participants spent the afternoon answering the following questions:
WRCP is a member of the working group that is now using the information gathered at the conference to develop a statewide climate change adaptation plan. You can follow our progress at www.dcnr.state.pa.us/wrcp/conference10/index.html
We are also focusing this year's grant program on climate change adaptation, which includes the direct impacts of climate change as well as man's response to reducing climate change. The latter includes our quest to reduce our carbon footprint by developing low carbon energy sources, which in Pennsylvania means wind and natural gas.
Evolution is a continuous process. Because of the many uncertainties surrounding climate change, such as how fast it will occur and what impact it will have on our native species, WRCP will need to continually evaluate what we do and adjust our approach. We don't know what the future holds, but look for WRCP to play a more active role facilitating the climate change adaptation process by integrating the work of the research, conservation and education communities, and focusing our funding on applied projects that specifically address our most pressing environmental threats.