A framework for climate change adaptation indicators for the natural environment

James Pearce-Higgins, Laura Antao, Rachel Bates, Katharine Bowgen, Catherine Bradshaw, Simon Duffield, Charles Ffoulkes, Aldina Franco, J. Geschke, Richard Gregory, Mike Harley, Jenny Hodgson, Rhosanna Jenkins, Val Kapos, Katherine Maltby, Olly Watts, Steve Willis, Michael Morecroft

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Impacts of climate change on natural and human systems will become increasingly severe as the magnitude of climate change increases. Climate change adaptation interventions to address current and projected impacts are thus paramount. Yet, evidence on their effectiveness remains limited, highlighting the need for appropriate ecological indicators to measure progress of climate change adaptation for the natural environment. We outline conceptual, analytical, and practical challenges in developing such indicators, before proposing a framework with three process-based and two results-based indicator types to track progress in adapting to climate change. We emphasize the importance of dynamic assessment and modification over time, as new adaptation targets are set and/or as intervention actions are monitored and evaluated. Our framework and proposed indicators are flexible and widely applicable across species, habitats, and monitoring programmes, and could be accommodated within existing national or international frameworks to enable the evaluation of both large-scale policy instruments and local management interventions. We conclude by suggesting further work required to develop these indicators fully, and hope this will stimulate the use of ecological indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of policy interventions for the adaptation of the natural environment across the globe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108690
JournalEcological Indicators
Early online date24 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Adaptation
  • Attribution
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Conservation

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