Webinar on Riparian Restoration Tool showcases Appalachian LCC Science

On April 22, Appalachian LCC GIS Analyst and Information Manager Jessica Rhodes gave a webinar presentation to 80 resource managers, scientists, and conservationists during the “Safeguarding Wildlife from Climate Change” web series.

Jessica provided a comprehensive overview of the “Riparian Restoration to Promote Climate Change Resilience” tool. This innovative riparian planting and restoration decision support tool, funded by the Appalachian LCC, allows managers and decision-makers to rapidly identify and prioritize areas along the banks of rivers, streams, and lakes for restoration. The web-based tool was developed by the U.S. Forest Service and is located on the Appalachian LCC Web Portal: applcc.org/riparian-restoration.

Jessica, who is also a Fish and Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, began her talk explaining the importance of anticipating climate change impacts. Temperature increases associated with climate change are likely to cause dramatic changes to riparian and adjacent aquatic systems. By focusing on re-establishing forested riparian areas, partner organizations can maintain intact riparian corridors by providing shade that limits the amount of solar radiation heating the water. This will help to reduce the impacts from climate change and create more resilient aquatic communities.

She then went on to discuss how the tool was developed as well as acknowledging those who developed it. A brief overview of the tool’s datasets and the metrics used was also provided.

The rest of the webinar focused on the tool’s use and applicability towards enhancing landscape conservation. Managers can tailor the web-based tool to their own specific needs by specifying the amount of canopy cover, solar gain, elevation, or percent impervious cover. A web viewer built in combination with the tool allows users to visualize results in conjunction with other GIS data layers, such as land cover, locations of dams and gas wells, and data pertaining to the presence of cold-water dependent species such as Eastern Brook Trout to inform management decisions. Jessica concluded the talk by providing examples of how the tool could be applicable to the many conservation activities already taking place within the Appalachian LCC boundary and beyond.

Representatives from Federal and state agencies, NGOs, partnerships, land trusts, and private companies tuned into the webinar. They included U.S. Forest Service, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Trout Unlimited, Rio Grande Joint Venture, Hudson River Watershed Alliance, and many more. The “Safeguarding Wildlife from Climate Change” web series is hosted monthly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Federation. It seeks to increase communication and transfer of technical information between conservation professionals regarding the increasing challenges from climate change.