Bruce Stein

Bruce Stein

Associate Vice President, Conservation Science and Climate Adaptation
National Advocacy Center - Washington, DC

Climate change is the defining conservation challenge of our time. Unfortunately, the impacts of global warming are not just in the distant future, but are with us here and now. As a result, it will be important not only to rapidly reduce our emissions of carbon into the atmosphere, which will reduce the long-term effects of warming, but also to prepare for and adjust to the inevitable warming that already is upon us and likely to get worse. I joined the National Wildlife Federation in the Fall of 2008 to do just that – focus on safeguarding wildlife from the impacts of climate change.

I began my professional career carrying out botanical explorations of the tropical rainforests of South America, and have spent the past 30 years using scientific data and knowledge as a tool for better protecting our most threatened species and ecosystems. As part of my work over the years with organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and NatureServe, I have witnessed and documented the threats to our wildlife and wild places from things such as rampant development, ecosystem degradation and the unchecked spread of invasive species. It is clear, though, that the effects of rapid climate change represent an unprecedented danger to our natural heritage, and attacking this peril requires a similarly unprecedented response.

As the National Wildlife Federation's Associate Vice President of Conservation Science and Climate Adaptation, I lead the organization's Climate Change Safeguards team, which focuses on better understanding the vulnerabilities of our species, ecosystems, and communities to the impacts of climate change, and developing innovative policies and management strategies to address those impacts. I also work closely with many governmental agencies and private organization’s to help advance the use of sound climate science in conservation and natural resource management. This includes work to develop adaptation guidance for agencies such as the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Department of Defense, and collaboration with efforts such as the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Climate Adaptation Fund. I currently serve as chair of the Department of Interior’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science, am a member of the Science Advisory Board of the Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, and a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Climate Change Specialist Group.

The National Wildlife Federation has emerged as a leader in the new field of climate change adaptation, and has been especially effective at bringing together members of the conservation community - including federal and state agencies, academics and other non-profits - to advance this new discipline. In 2011, NWF worked together with a number of partners to publish a ground-breaking guide to climate change vulnerability assessment. This guide, Scanning the Conservation Horizon, is now being used by federal and state agencies across the country to help begin the process of adapting to “the new normal.” Building on the success of that effort, NWF convened another expert workgroup to develop guidance on how to actually put adaptation principles into practice and in 2014 published the now widely used guide Climate-Smart Conservation. In recognition of our work helping the conservation community incorporate climate considerations into its work, in 2016 NWF was the recipient of the prestigious new National Climate Adaptation Leadership Award.

Addressing the impacts of climate change will entail making a number of difficult choices. We can make a difference, though, and NWF has an important role to play in helping safeguard the nation’s cherished plant and animal species.

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