Authored by: Carly Vynne1,2 *, Erin Dovichin3, Nancy Fresco4, Natalie Dawson5,6 *, Anup Joshi7, Beverly E. Law8, Ken Lertzman9, Scott Rupp4, Fiona Schmiegelow10,11, and E. Jamie Trammell12,13
1 RESOLVE, Washington, DC, United States, 2 Osprey Insights LLC, Seattle, WA, United States, 3 Alaska Venture Fund, Anchorage, AK, United States, 4 International Arctic Research Center (IARC), University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States, 5 Department of Environmental Science, Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, AK, United States, 6 National Audubon Society, Anchorage, AK, United States, 7 Conservation Sciences Graduate Program, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 8 Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States, 9 The School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada, 10 Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, 11 Renewable Resources, Yukon University, Whitehorse, YT, Canada, 12 Environmental Science, Policy, & Sustainability, Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR, United States, 13 Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, United States
Alaska is globally significant for its large tracts of intact habitats, which support complete wildlife assemblages and many of the world’s healthiest wild fisheries, while also storing significant amounts of carbon. Alaska has 1/3 of United States federal lands, the bulk of the United States’ intact and wild lands, and over half of the country’s total terrestrial ecosystem carbon on federal lands. Managing Alaska’s public lands for climate and biodiversity conservation purposes over the next 30–50 years would provide meaningful and irreplaceable climate benefits for the United States and globe. Doing so via a co-management approach with Alaska’s 229 federally recognized tribes is likely not only to be more effective but also more socially just. This paper lays out the scientific case for managing Alaska’s public lands for climate stabilization and resilience and addresses three primary questions: Why is Alaska globally meaningful for biodiversity and climate stabilization? Why should Alaska be considered as a key element of a climate stabilization and biodiversity conservation strategy for the United States? What do we need to know to better understand the role of Alaska given future scenarios? We summarize evidence for the role Alaska’s lands play in climate stabilization, as well as what is known about the role of land management in influencing carbon storage and sequestration. Finally, we summarize priority research that is needed to improve understanding of how policy and management prescriptions are likely to influence the role Alaska plays in global climate stabilization and adaptation.