A new resource, National Climate Change Roadmap - A Research Framework for Agriculture, Forestry and Working Lands, funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and led by researchers from Colorado State University and Meridian Institute, was released recently.
The science roadmap includes an assessment of the state of climate adaptation research in agriculture, forestry and working lands, along with key needs and gaps. For each gap, the authors identified research questions to address the impacts of climate change on agriculture, food systems, forests and natural resources, which are aligned with seven themes.
- Systems-based innovations: Cultivate and advance systems-based innovations and approaches that bridge biophysical and socioeconomic disciplines to build system resiliency to climate change.
- Participatory research processes: Co-create a research continuum that bridges fundamental research to producer knowledge, practice and experience and incorporates principles of environmental and social justice.
- Mitigation and adaptation through ecosystem management: Adapt to and/or mitigate the impacts of climate change across diverse environments and land use systems via science-based management opportunities.
- Climate-informed water resource management: Address earth system interactions and the growing challenges created with increasing agricultural water demand.
- Energy-smart agriculture and technology integration: Integrate new energy technologies into diverse production systems to help achieve carbon neutrality.
- Strategic, sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices: Develop and promote practices that improve biodiversity and ecosystem health while strengthening resiliency to climate change.
- Socioeconomic and policy research: Develop and evaluate models that assess impacts of markets, consumption patterns, socioeconomic conditions and food systems on human well-being under a changing climate.
Dr. Kevin Kephart, deputy director of NIFA’s Institute for Bioenergy Climate and Environment, said work on the National Climate Change Roadmap began in autumn 2021 when Land-grant partners asked that a climate summit be supported by NIFA.
“The work evolved to conducting a horizon scan analysis involving over 60 national experts in climate-related agricultural research and Extension," Kephart said. “The horizon scan leadership team further obtained input from over 100 leading scientists. The resulting roadmap provides valuable insights as NIFA and partner institutions develop strategies to address climate change through agriculture and forestry.”
Within USDA, this report is a resource for program leaders to consider when developing strategies to support climate-smart agriculture and forestry as part of the research, Extension and education work at Land-grant Institutions and non-Land-grant Colleges and Universities.
As a first step for implementing the Roadmap, NIFA awarded a conference proposal to the Extension Foundation to host Extension leaders from Land-grant Universities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribal Colleges, in a National Extension Climate Action Convening. The Convening’s goal is to create a National Climate Action Plan for Extension programs, using the needs identified in the Roadmap as a guide.