Contributed by Gwen Griffith, Model Forest Policy Program
(a shorter version of this story appears in our ASAP member newsletter June 28, 2018)
“Rural communities are highly dependent upon natural resources that are affected by climate change. These communities also face particular obstacles in responding to climate change that increase their vulnerability to its impacts.” National Climate Assessment 2014
Across America, less than 20% of the population (~ 60 million) lives on 95% of the land that we call “rural” America. They are the vital stewards of the sparsely populated landscapes of small towns, watersheds, forests, grasslands, deserts, and farms. These lands provide nature’s services that 80% of Americans depend on for air, water, food, fiber, habitat, and recreation. Despite the importance of managing rural lands for climate resilience, underserved rural communities lack the capacity to tackle climate impacts on their own.
Recognizing this critical challenge, the Model Forest Policy Program is embarking on a new approach to meeting the particular needs of rural adaptation with the Resilient Rural America Project (RRAP), developed in collaboration with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), EcoAdapt, Geos Institute, and the NOAA Climate Program Office and funded by the Climate Resilience Fund and Harmonic International, Inc.
The overarching goal is to accelerate rural climate action by strengthening the ability of adaptation professionals to meet the needs of underserved rural communities and operate from a more sustainable funding stream. The project objective is to co-produce and beta test an innovative adaptation training module that enables and motivates rural leaders to take action on a specific, priority adaptation strategy. Using a co-production model, the training content and delivery methods are developed in consultation with rural users and adaptation service providers. The selection of the training module topic depends on input from adaptation professionals and rural users to understand their priorities and needs. The resulting training module will be a time efficient process that fits the particular needs of rural leaders. The first step in user engagement is the rural resilience service provider survey, which is available at this survey link. We strongly encourage climate professionals of all disciplines to take this survey now and contribute to the design and success of the project. The survey findings and training module will be a resource for all adaptation professionals and rural leaders. Thank you for taking this survey and contributing to rural resilience where ever you are!