Welcome to the Rural Resiliency Vision and Toolkit for Adaptation!
This project made possible by generous funding by the Connecticut Institute for Resiliency and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA). This project is grounded in actionable, and achievable, adaptation strategies with a particular emphasis on the unique vulnerabilities and opportunities of a predominantly rural region. This project includes a vision of A Resilient Northwest Hills and a climate change adaptation toolkit for municipalities.
As noted in the recently-released 4th National Climate Assessment (2018), climate change is already affecting communities around the country:
“More frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities. Future climate change is expected to further disrupt many areas of life, exacerbating existing challenges to prosperity posed by aging and deteriorating infrastructure, stressed ecosystems, and economic inequality.”(1)
In addition to important climate change mitigation efforts, it is critical to the economy, cultural, and social health of our communities that local-scale adaptation is underway. This toolkit will assist rural inland communities begin their resiliency efforts.
These natural hazards will be precipitated or exacerbated by climate change. Furthermore, rural communities are uniquely vulnerable to climate change because of their: dependency on natural resources for agriculture, recreation, ecosystem services, and quality of life; geographic isolation, limited economic diversity, aging population, etc.; and limited transportation, infrastructure, and health/emergency networks. Rural communities also have less technical resources including GIS capacity and information like parcel maps and digital FEMA Flood Insurance Risk Maps (FIRM) maps.
Despite these vulnerabilities and complications, rural communities also have unique strengths. An active volunteer base, traditions of self-reliance and neighborliness, skilled natural resource knowledge, inventive and resourceful community decision-makers, and inter-municipal partnership & planning all contribute to the on-going resiliency of rural communities.
When the science and data become available, a full climate change vulnerability assessment, including flooding a can be conducted at regional and local scales. At this time, with limited data and limited financial capacity, rural communities may be best served by a geographically-sensitive and capacity-minded compilation of climate change adaptation opportunities coupled with a vision for resiliency in the region. Hence, the Rural Resiliency Vision and Toolkit.
“Rural America’s importance to the country’s economic and social well-being is disproportionate to its population, as rural areas provide natural resources that much of the rest of the United States depends on for food, energy, water, forests, recreation, national character, and quality of life. Rural economic foundations and community cohesion are intricately linked to these natural systems, which are inherently vulnerable to climate change.” (2)
This project uses five primary categories, resembling the Connecticut Climate Preparedness Plan with the addition of cultural resources. This approach is designed to assist municipalities and partners quickly identify actions for which there is political will, funding availability, and our public interest. A number of the resiliency actions qualify for multiple categories or deliver multiple co-benefits. The categories are Agriculture, Cultural Resources, Infrastructure, Natural Resources, and Public Health. The project consists of the following components:
- A downloadable version of the Resiliency Toolkit that contains:
- a vulnerability overview for each category, potential partners, potential funding streams, and resiliency actions with potential informative resources;
- Resiliency/adaptation actions for each category;
- Two case studies for each topic; and,
- Links to implementation guidance for municipalities.
- An interactive web-version of the Toolkit
- A basic interactive web-map to assist towns in screening their vulnerabilities
- A rural resiliency vision statement and visuals
- Final grant report to UConn CIRCA with recommendation to improve local and state resiliency
This toolkit is different, albeit congruous with the recently launched Sustainable CT program. Sustainable CT is a certification program that will assist towns in obtaining funds/grants for sustainability actions. Sustainability (defined below) can certainly overlap with resiliency. In fact, there are some resiliency actions in the Sustainable CT program such as a Historical Resources Inventory. Resiliency is mostly driven by the impacts of climate change. This Rural Resiliency project is not a certification program. It doesn’t have any required paperwork or participation. It is simply a resource to help towns adapt to climate change.
While this project achieves several regional objectives for the Northwest Hills of Connecticut, it will be of service to other municipalities throughout Connecticut and rural municipalities throughout the country. The broad offering of strategies will meet a municipality at its current financial, technical, and administrative capacity.
Check out a printable version of the toolkit.
- USGCRP, 2018: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II: Report-in-Brief [Reidmiller, D.R., C.W. Avery, D.R. Easterling, K.E. Kunkel, K.L.M. Lewis, T.K. Maycock, and B.C. Stewart (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, 186 pp
- Hales, D., Hohenstein, W., Bidwell, M. D., Landry, C., McGranahan, D., Molnar, J., … Jadin, J. (2014). Ch. 14: Rural Communities. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment. https://doi.org/10.7930/J01Z429C