Natural resource professionals, ranging from forest managers and educators to floodplain managers, play a critical role in implementing and conducting outreach with regards to climate mitigation and adaptation appropriate to local and regional scales. Natural resource professionals can also pave the way by adopting actions that serve as demonstrations of efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions or adapt natural systems for the future. A web survey of 1488 natural resource professionals across New York State (NYS) was conducted to assess their attitudes toward climate change, views toward climate change mitigation and adaptation priorities, actions taken to address climate change, and barriers faced as they relate to their professional responsibilities. The majority of natural resource professionals believe that climate change is happening, but there was slightly less agreement about human causes of climate change. Most natural resource professionals (69%) see evidence of how climate change is impacting natural resources in NYS, but few (17%) believed that there was sufficient information about how to address climate impacts at the local level. Nearly 60% of natural resources professionals undertook climate mitigation or adaptation actions in their work. Prominent influencing factors for action were proactive leadership and local impacts. Barriers to taking action on climate change were a lack of human and financial resources, the nature of costs relative to benefits, and lack of perceived threat. As managers and educators responsible for local water, land, and wildlife resources, natural resource professionals witness changes resulting from climate change first-hand. This paper will be useful to decision-makers at state and federal government levels regarding policies, incentives, and guidance that can be created with the goal of promoting a sound natural resource strategy in support of climate change readiness.
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