Topic outline

  • General

    Riparian Restoration to Promote Climate Change Resilience

    Riparian Restoration to Promote Climate Change Resilience

    An innovative riparian planting and restoration decision support tool, funded by the Appalachian LCC, is now available to the conservation community. This user-friendly tool allows managers and decision-makers to rapidly identify and prioritize areas along the banks of rivers, streams, and lakes for restoration, making these ecosystems more resilient to disturbance and future changes in climate. It will also help the conservation community invest limited conservation dollars wisely, helping to deliver sustainable resources.

    • Introduction

      Riparian Restoration to Promote Climate Change Resilience (RPCCR) Course

      Welcome to the Riparian Restoration to Promote Climate Change Resilience (RPCCR) online course, an innovative web-based tool - funded by the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and developed by researchers from the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Massachusetts – RPCCR is allowing managers to rapidly identify high-priority riparian targets for restoration to make more resilient in preparation for changes in future climate.

      The RPCCR tool identifies vulnerable stream and riverbanks that lack tree cover and shade in coldwater stream habitats. By locating the best spots to plant trees in riparian zones, resource managers can provide shade that limits the amount of solar radiation heating the water and reduces the impacts from climate change. This well-established management strategy will benefit high-elevation, cold-water aquatic communities.

      Course Description:

      This course will explain the science behind the development of the tool, demonstrate to users how-to use the web map application, provide examples of how this information can be used to make management decisions, and guide users through an interactive exercise using the data in a case study activity.

      This course consists of an introduction and 6 additional modules. Participants should complete the modules in sequential order. If, after reviewing the prerequisites for a module, a participant feels that they already have an understanding of the information, they can proceed to the next module. For example, if you already are familiar with the RPCCR report but have not yet used the tool, you can skip to Module 2.

      In Modules 2-4, two different levels of instruction are provided. The first level is known as the manager level. The focus is to provide an understanding of how to use the tool and to answer questions related to conservation management. Participants will not perform additional analysis; rather they will focus on the thought process behind the analysis. The second level, known as the technical level, focuses on showing participants how-to use the tool and the actual process of completing analysis using additional software and data to strategically plan conservation actions. 

      Course Objectives:

      Upon completion of this course, users will be able to:

      • Participants will develop an understanding of what the RPCCR is.
      • Participants will also develop a good understanding of the science behind the tools and their appropriate use.
      • Users will be able to utilize RPCCR available on the Appalachian LCC portal to identify riparian corridors for restoration.
      • Users will be able to apply information from a case study to develop a strategy for utilizing the tools as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources with the organization’s area of responsibility.
      • Facilitate creative thinking to enhance the utilization of the tools to answer questions for the strategic delivery of conservation activities.

      Course Requirements:

      Participants will complete readings, view instructional videos, complete a review quiz at the end of the course, and provide feedback regarding the course.

      Computer Requirements:

      You will need to use Adobe Reader to view course materials. If you do not already have Adobe Reader on your computer, click on the link below to access Adobe's website and download it for free.

      ArcGIS is needed for participants who plan to complete the technical level of Module 4. Alternative GIS software can be used, however, directions are providing using ArcGIS.  Manager level users can complete the course using their internet browser of choice.

      Course Prerequisites:

      There are no prerequisites to take this course. However, within the course, participants should complete the Modules in order as they build upon information in the previous modules. Prerequisites are covered at the beginning of each module.

    • Module 1

      Module 1 – The Science behind RPCCR

      Objective:

      The objective of this exercise is to explain the need to address climate change effects and explain the science behind the RPCCR tool development.

      Prerequisite:

      Before completing this module you should review the information in the Course Introduction module. No experience with the RPCCR tool is necessary.

      Introduction:

      Among a host of other critical ecosystem functions, intact riparian forests can help to reduce vulnerability of coldwater stream habitats to warming regional temperatures. Restoring and conserving these forests can therefore be an important part of regional and landscape-scale conservation plans, but managers need science and decision-support tools to help determine when these actions will be most effective. The Riparian Prioritization for Climate Change Resilience (RPCCR), a web-based decision support tool, was developed to quickly and easily identify, based on current riparian cover and predicted vulnerability to air temperature warming, sites that are priority candidates for riparian restoration and conservation.

      Within this module, you will first watch a video presentation which discusses the science behind the RPCCR tool and how this tool meets the needs of managers to identify areas where conservations actions will be most effective. The module will finish with a brief summary of the important points.

      Video:

      In the following video, Jessica Rhodes, Appalachian LCC GIS Analyst, explains the science behind the RPCCR tool and discusses the need for the tool by managers to identify the most effective areas for conservation.

      Review Session:

      Now that you have viewed the instructional video and completed the hands-on activity, we are going to review the information that was covered.

      • The Riparian Prioritization for Climate Change Resilience (RPCCR) is a web-based decision support tool designed to quickly and easily identify, based on current riparian cover and predicted vulnerability to air temperature warming, sites that are priority candidates for riparian restoration and conservation.
      • RPCCR is a shovel ready prioritization tool for managers facing immediate on-the-ground decisions.
      • RPCCR is incorporated into the Appalachian LCC GIS and Conservation Planning Tool (felek.cns.umass.edu:8080/geoserver/www/Web_Map_Viewer.html).
      • The RPCCR tool does:
        • Identify riparian areas which lack vegetation cover for restoration to make these communities more resilient to climate change
      • The RPCCR tool does not:
        • Prioritize the identified riparian areas which meet the established criteria.
        • Consider factors outside of the riparian corridor.
        • Extend beyond the EBTJV boundary.

      Additional Resources:

      There are several additional resources are available on the App LCC portal, including:

    • Module 2

      Module 2 – How to Use RPCCR

      Objective:

      The objective of this exercise is to familiarize you with the RPCCR and to assist each participant in utilizing the tool for a set of user-defined parameters.

      Prerequisite:

      Before completing this module you should be familiar with the report from the “Riparian Prioritization and Status Assessment for Climate Change Resilience of Coldwater Stream Habitats within the Appalachian and Northeastern Regions” research project. If you are not familiar with this project, the information is covered in Module 1 of this course. You should complete Module 1 before proceeding to Modules 2 if you are unfamiliar with the project.

      Introduction:

      Within this module, you will first watch a video presentation which provides a detailed overview of how to use the RPCCR tool and the data layers currently available. The next step will be to complete a hands-on activity to complete an analysis for a watershed. The module will finish with a brief summary of the important points.

      Video:

      In the following video, Jessica Rhodes, Appalachian LCC GIS Analyst, explains how managers and researchers can tailor the decision support tool to their own specific needs and priority areas and resources.

      How-To Activity:

      Now that you have watched the instructional video, we are going to walk through a hands-on activity using the RPCCR tool. In this activity we will access the RPCCR tool and explore the different features and data that are available.

      There are two levels for this activity. The first level is called the “Manager Level”. This level will focus on using the information contained within the web application only. We will discuss the different data layers that are available and features of the web application. No experience with GIS software is needed to complete this level. The second level, “Technical Level”, will cover the same material as the Manger Level, but it will also provide a section for downloading the data and using the data within the ArcGIS platform. If you choose the Technical Level, you should have some experience using ArcGIS software.

      Select the appropriate document from the list below to begin the activity:

      Review Session:

      Now that you have viewed the instructional video and completed the hands-on activity, we are going to review the information that was covered.

      • Users are able to download the data generated from the analysis or they can view the information within the App LCC platform.
      • RPCCR allows users to customize key metrics based on organizational priorities. These parameters include:
        • Canopy cover - This value will select all areas areas that are less than or equal to the specified value for percent canopy cover. 
        • Solar gain percentile - This value will select all areas areas that are greater than or equal to the specified value.
        • Elevation - This is an optional parameter and when selected will only include those areas that are greater than or equal to the value specified. 
        • Impervious surface - This is also an optional parameters. When selected, the analysis will include all areas that are less than or equal to the specified value. 
      • Users are able to select at which scale the analysis is performed. The analysis can be performed at state, county, or watershed level.
    • Module 3

      Module 3 – Decision Support Tool Using Case Study Examples

      Objective:

      The objective of this module is to provide several case study examples for utilizing the Riparian Restoration Prioritization for Climate Change Resilience (RPCCR) online tool as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources with the organization’s area of responsibility. 

      Prerequisite:

      Before completing this module you should be familiar with using the Riparian Restoration Prioritization for Climate Change Resilience (RPCCR) online tool. If you are not familiar with this tool, the information is covered in Module 2 of this course. You should complete Module 2 before proceeding to Module 3 if you are unfamiliar with the tool. 

      Introduction:

      Within this module, you will watch a video presentation which provides several case study examples of how RPCCR output can be used to aid in decisions related to conservation management. After watching the video, participants should review the brief summary information. The case study scenarios provided are examples of how output from RPCCR can be used and integrated with other data sources to refine priorities and strategically plan for conservation management. Participants should be able to use these examples to facilitate creative thinking in applying the RPCCR output to their own data in different geographic areas.

      Video:

      In the following video, Jessica Rhodes, Appalachian LCC GIS Analyst, discusses several case study examples which utilize output from RPCCR.

      Review Session:

      Now that you have viewed the instructional video and completed the hands-on activity, we are going to review the information that was covered.

      • Results from the RPCCR analysis can be used on conjunction with other prioritizations that have already been completed to identify areas of overlap.
      • The output of of RPCCR is sensitive to the values assigned to the parameters. Changing values for the parameters can result in different areas being identified as meeting the established criteria.
      • The output from RPCCR can be used in conjunction with other data layers to prioritize the identified riparian areas. For example, riparian areas identified by the RPCCR analysis may contain non-desirable features that will remove them from further consideration. Conversely, there may be desirable features which will identify certain areas as a higher priority.
      • Module 4

        Module 4 – Case Study Activity

        Objective:

        Users will apply information from a case study to develop a strategy for utilizing the tools as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources within the organization’s area of responsibility. The final objective is to facilitate creative thinking to enhance the utilization of the tools to answer questions for the strategic delivery of conservation activities.

        Prerequisite:

        Before completing this module you should be familiar with the RPCCR online tool and be comfortable running the analysis for your area of interest. If you have not previously used the RPCCR tool, the information is covered in Module 2 of this course. In addition, you should also review Module 3 to develop an understanding of some of the different ways the tool can be used. 

        Introduction:

        In Module 3, we discussed several case study examples of how the RPCCR can be used to identify and prioritizes areas for conservation based on organizational priorities and needs.  In this module, users will walk through a case study example using the directions that are provided. Complete instructions for this activity are available for download from the course materials.

        There are two levels for this activity. The first level is called the “Manager Level”. This level will utilize the same data as that in the Technical Level, however, you will not to perform the analysis. The analysis on the data layers has already been completed and the results uploaded to the Appalachian LCC Conservation Planning Atlas (https://applcc.databasin.org/). The original data layers as well as the intermediate layers have been incorporated into a web map. The instructions for the activity will explain what the different layers are and discuss how they can be used to answer the question. No experience with GIS software is needed to complete this level.

        The second level, “Technical Level”, will cover the same material as the Manager Level, but it will also provide a section for downloading the data and using the data within the ArcGIS platform. If you choose the Technical Level, you should have some experience using ArcGIS software.

        For both levels, the question you are trying to answer ("Where are the highest priority riparian corridors within a watershed, which if riparian vegetation is restored, will provide the most efficient way of increasing aquatic connectivity and provide for habitat more resilient to impacts of increasing temperatures resulting from climate change?") is stated at the beginning of the directions. A list of potential data layers is also provided. The next section provides a potential solution for answering the stated question. You can use additional data layers or incorporate different data layers you have available. The goal of this exercise is to get you thinking of the many different ways the data from RPCCR can be used in conjunction with other data layers and resources.

        Select the appropriate document from the list below to begin the activity:

        Data:

        The data for this activity is for Pennsylvania; however the analysis could be performed in other states where data is available. Data layers for the analysis are available at the following link (only needed for Technical Level activity). These links will download a zip file. You will need to extract the data from each file before it can be used in ArcGIS: 

        1. RPCCR output for Tunkhannock watershed in Pennsylvania (Step 1 of the Technical Level activity) - http://applcc.s3.amazonaws.com/RPCCR_online_course/RPCCR_raster.zip
        2. RPCCR output for Tunkhannock watershed in Pennsylvania - Vector format. This data is being provided as an example, but you will create a similar file in Step 5 of the Technical Level activity - http://applcc.s3.amazonaws.com/RPCCR_online_course/RPCCR_vector.zip
        3. Stream Classification layer developed by The Nature Conservancy. This file only includes stream segments within Pennsylvania. The data is available for the entire Appalachian LCC boundary by request. This data is used in Step 11 of the Technical Level activity - http://applcc.s3.amazonaws.com/RPCCR_online_course/temperature_class.zip
        4. Streams with natural reproduction that overlap with output from RPCCR. This data is being provided as an example. You will create a similar file in Step 9 of the Technical Level activity - http://applcc.s3.amazonaws.com/RPCCR_online_course/RPCCR_vector_with_trout_reproduction.zip
        5. Pennsylvania streams with natural trout reproduction as identified by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (Step 7 of the Technical Level activity) - http://applcc.s3.amazonaws.com/RPCCR_online_course/trout_natural_reproduction.zip
        6. Coldwater streams with natural trout reproduction near areas from RPCCR output. This data is being provided as an example. You will create a similar file in Step 12 of the Technical Level activity. - http://applcc.s3.amazonaws.com/RPCCR_online_course/RPCCR_vector_with_trout_reproduction_in_coldwater.zip
        7. EBTJV Priority Areas - http://applcc.s3.amazonaws.com/EBTJV_DATA/ebt_priority_scores.zip

      • Module 5

        Module 5 – Assessment Quiz

        This quiz is intended to assess your comprehension of the material covered in Modules 1-4 of this course. You will need a score of 60% percent to pass.

        There are a total of 10 questions. Once you have answered all of the questions, you will be able to review your answers before submitting them. After you submit your answers, your results will be displayed.

        You may take the test as many times as necessary to receive the minimum score required. 

        Take the Quiz

      • Module 6 - Participant Feedback

        Thank you for participating in this online course. It is very important to us that the online courses we provide are beneficial to course participants. A link is provided below to a brief course assessment survey. We value your feedback and will use your responses to improve on future online offerings of this course.

        If you have any questions regarding the course evaluation or prefer to provide feedback in person, please don't hesitate to email me at jessica_rhodes@fws.gov.

        Participant Feedback Survey