Communicating Visually about Resilient Landscapes

In 1997 President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore visited Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California-Nevada border. The lake’s famed clarity had been declining since the 1960s due to land conversion and development in the Basin – each additional square foot of coverage meant slightly more fine sediment being washed from roofs and pavement through the storm sewer system into the lake. Their visit triggered the launched of a joint federal-state-local government partnership called the Environmental Improvement Program. Since 1997 the EIP has invested over $2 billion in over 600 EIP projects.

Clinton Gore 1997 Summit
President Clinton and Vice President Gore in 1997, photo courtesy Univ. Nevada at Reno

On August 7, 2018, four American Senators (Dianne Feinstein, Catherine Cortez-Masto, Dean Heller, and Lisa Murkowski) hosted the 22nd annual summit. As part of the summit, the state agency that I work for – the California Tahoe Conservancy – released the following infographic.


The infographic describes a few of likely impacts of climate change to the Tahoe Basin’s social-ecological resources. These include its lakes and streams, forests, meadows, highways and trails, water and energy infrastructure, cultural landscapes, and recreation and tourism industry. You can see this by scrolling down to the centerfold — we formatted the infographic for 11×17 inch glossy paper, and printed it accordingly.

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 9.34.34 PM
The centerfold of the Climate Adaptation Action Plan infographic


The infographic signifies the launch of a new Basin-wide Climate Adaptation Action Plan (CAAP) development process that the Conservancy has convened and is collaboratively leading.


The CAAP project involves

  • modeled climate projections and assumptions scaled down to the Basin
  • synthesis of recent scientific literature
  • a vulnerability assessment
  • an analysis of project and policy gaps
  • discrete actions taken by partner agencies and stakeholders, and
  • corresponding economic analyses and performance measures.


The project includes a Science & Engineering Team, State Agency Partners team, Peer Partners Group, and a contracted project manager and scientific editor. It also combines seed funding from the Conservancy with state Department of Transportation climate adaptation grant, and state Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund grant; we will continue to look for supplemental grants to fund projects that emerge from the action plan.


With regard to resilience, the project’s third goal is to enhance the Basin’s resilience to climate change – the ability of its communities, resources, assets and landscape to withstand and adapt climate-amplified disturbances and extreme events. Performance measures will include the Basin’s institutional capacity to adapt to climate change.


In what ways have you used infographics to help teach people about socially-ecologically resilient landscapes?



Unless otherwise noted, the information presented herein does not represent IUCN’s or the Commission’s position on the matters presented.

2 thoughts on “Communicating Visually about Resilient Landscapes

Add yours

  1. I like infographics and this is an interesting initiative. I am working with some colleagues in the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management on a social-ecological system framework for assessing vulnerability. Having spent many years working with ecosystems, I have reached the conclusion that good adaptive governance built on an understanding of feedback, self-organisation and interactions between people and nature across scales, is the key to climate change adaptation. Overcoming the generally low level of willingness to adopt and apply systems thinking to complex problems is a challenge. Could folks involved in this initiative use this infographic as a foundation for designing additional images that illustrate the key interactions in this systems, especially those that are driving it in directions that might reduce it resilience to climate change?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like where you’re going and will bring this idea back to the planning team. In the CAAP process we already knew we were going to emphasize linkages and secondary effects involving ecological processes and climate impacts. I’m now intrigued by taking this a step further, per your comment, and showing how some such interactions link smaller and larger scales, as well as differentiating between those that increase or reduce resilience. Thank you for the comment!


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