Friday, April 5, 2013

Why Everglades restoration really needs to be about adapting to climate change

Tricia Woolfenden in WLRN (Florida): When the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was approved in 2000, it was a historic move to "restore, protect and preserve" water resources in central and south Florida. The 30-year framework was designed with the ultimate goal of restoring historic water-flows to a "dying ecosystem." Project leaders and scientists are now focused on incorporating climate change adaptation into the plans and acknowledging that the Everglades will likely never look the way it once did.

"We were looking back, now we need to look forward," said Eric Bush who is with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, one of the partners in CERP and other Everglades restoration efforts.  Bush said when CERP was created, it didn't take climate change into account. Sea level rise and fluctuations in precipitation and temperature will alter Florida's landscape, making it necessary to morph Everglades restoration plans into an "adaptation plan" for climate change.

"I don't think the public really understands the implications of climate change (on South Florida)," Bush said. He said while authorities don't yet know how serious the effects will be, adaptation needs to begin "now, or it will be too late," given the many years it takes to put any significant plan into place.

Bush's sentiments were echoed -- to one degree or another -- by numerous speakers at last week's meeting of the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress (CISRERP) in Miami. The committee is part of the National Academies, a nonprofit organization that provides government and public institutions with independent analysis and recommendations on public policy....

The Turner River in the Everglades, shot by Chauncey Davis, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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