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The NPS National Capital Region Enduring Features Project
Assessing the Climate Change Vulnerability of Terrestrial Ecosystems in National Capital Region Parks
About this Project

The National Capital Region of the National Park Service includes some of the richest features of America’s cultural and natural history. However, as global temperatures rise and precipitation patterns become more extreme, these national treasures are increasingly vulnerable. To understand how climate change will impact the National Capital Region, the National Park Service partnered with experts at NatureServe to conduct climate change vulnerability assessments.

Project Details

As components of this project, we have:

  • Completed a generalized landscape vulnerability assessment for terrestrial ecosystems in the parks
  • Evaluated the specific climate change vulnerability of three ecological systems
  • Identified connectivity priority areas, where actions to maintain or enhance natural connections can support adaptation

Next steps include:

  • Refining measures of ecological integrity with field data from the parks
  • Working with park staff to develop adaptation strategies

Together, this work can help ensure that the parks of the National Capital Region retain healthy ecological communities into the future.

To Learn More

We have assembled several resources to communicate the outcomes of this work to park staff and other interested parties, including a series of recorded webinars, available below, with details on each completed phase of the project.

The NPS National Capital Region Enduring Features Map Gallery on Data Basin hosts resource briefs summarizing our findings and interactive maps of our results. The resource briefs are also accessible via the publication page on our website. 

Project Overview

The recording below provides an overview of all phases of the project completed as of 2019.

Landscape Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

Additional information on the Landscape Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment can be viewed in this recorded webinar:

Habitat Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

Details on the Habitat Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for three forest types can be viewed in the recorded webinar below. These forests include Appalachian (Hemlock) Northern Hardwood Forest, Northeastern Interior Dry-Mesic Forest, and Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Mesic Hardwood Forest.

Connectivity Priority Areas

Detail on the process for identifying Connectivity Priority Areas for the parks can be found in this recorded webinar.