The West Maui Ridge to Reef (R2R) initiative, founded by Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, addresses adverse impacts to coral reefs in West Maui. It takes a comprehensive, watershed-based approach to reducing land-based sources of pollution as a critical step toward restoring and building the resiliency of coral reef ecosystems. However, climate change is complicating that effort. Increasing temperatures and ocean acidification directly impact the health of coral reefs, and changing precipitation patterns are altering the frequency and load of nutrient pollution reaching coastal waters through runoff. Managers need tools that incorporate climate change information and scenarios.
EPA ORD has been working with the R2R Initiative on ‘climate-smart’ management planning through the Corals & Climate Adaptation Planning (CCAP) project. The CCAP project is a cooperative effort of the Climate Change Working Group of the Interagency U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, co-chaired by EPA and NOAA. The overall goal is to support the creation of effective, place-based adaptation actions using recent adaptation planning principles and frameworks, tailored specifically for coral reefs. To achieve this, the CCAP and R2R teams collaborated through workshops, webinars and expert consultations to develop, beta-test and refine the CCAP Adaptation Design Tool. The tool guides users through two activities to: 1) systematically analyze a series of ‘design considerations’ for adjusting existing management actions to be more ‘climate-smart’; and 2) brainstorm and tailor additional adaptation actions based on general strategies compiled from the literature. Together these activities aim to make the components of an existing plan ‘climate-smart’ while also expanding the actions under consideration.
“Participating in the development of the CCAP adaptive design tool has given the West Maui watershed planning team an opportunity to engage in in-depth conversations with experts from around the world about how climate change is likely to impact coral reef health and the connecting watersheds. Once the tool is finished, we anticipate incorporating the framework into our decision making to arrive at the most resilient set of watershed management strategies that are relevant into an uncertain future,” said Tova Callender, Watershed Coordinator, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.