Climbing the tree of tool selection

By: Renee Collini / Published: Sep 22,  2016

As I’ve written about before, a person can get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tools and models available when addressing climate change.

Whether you are a natural resource manager looking to help marshes adapt to sea-level rise or a community trying to protect your roads from increased floods, there are a myriad of choices and options.

Many of these tools were designed for specific purposes and much like trying to use a pocket knife to cut lumber, you can get some less than successful results putting the wrong tool into action.

Now you and your fellow decision-makers are in luck – we have something to help! The Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative, Gulf of Mexico Alliance, and Climate Community of Practice have successfully obtained funding from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program to develop a decision-support tree.

How will a tree help?

Photo by Christina Mohrman
Photo by Christina Mohrman

Imagine you are standing at the base of a tree looking up at all the different boughs and branches. At the end of each branch is a tool or model that can be used when planning for climate change. The way our tree works is as you start to climb the tree, each time you come to a fork in the tree a question will appear. These questions will help determine the nature of the issue you are trying to address, what scale, what time frame, etc. The answer to each question will point you to which way to go at each fork, until you arrive at the tool that best suits the job you need to accomplish. This is the concept behind the online, interactive decision-support tree we are building.

Getting the tree built!

To build a really great tree, we need lots of input from all kinds of decision-makers. We are planning to host workshops across the Gulf of Mexico to provide input from a wide variety of stakeholders, including flood plain managers, coastal communities, natural resource managers, environmental consultants, and elected officials.

Contact Christina Mohrman, the project coordinator, at if you are interested. The cooperative will be hosting a page online for the tree where we will be seeking recommendations for tools and models as well!

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