Climate Change Adaptation - Maine


State Seal of Maine

        Threat from Sea Level Rise     Threat to Water Supply or Quality     Threat from Intensified Weather Events     Threat to Wildlife or Habitat    
        Action: Adaptation Planning Process Includes Wetlands     Action: Monitoring                

Climate Change History

Maine’s climate action plan is dated 2004 and has resulted in three biennial progress reports since its inception.  Maine’s current climate plan is focused on the reduction of greenhouse gasses (mitigation) rather than preparing the state to deal with changes already on the way (adaptation).  However, in 2009 the state legislature ordered the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to “evaluate the options and actions available …to prepare for and adapt to the most likely impacts of climate change.”  DEP released its adaptation report in early 2010.  This report makes explicit mention of wetlands and that many wetland services are at risk.

Current & Future Action

Maine’s 2010 adaptation report explicitly identifies that wetlands, and especially estuarine wetlands, are vital to the state’s wellbeing.  The report identifies a lack of available data for climate change adaptation planning and recommends that monitoring and data gathering should focus on high-vulnerability areas and systems. DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment is currently tracking potential climate change issues as part of its broader wetland monitoring activities.  The report also recommends that Maine acquires property to allow for wetland migration, as well as developing a state-level standard for protective zoning, conservation, and land acquisition in coastal areas.  The Maine Geological Survey has already begun work to maintain/allow migration of coastal wetlands.  The report has additional recommendations pertaining to invasive species monitoring and the reduction of cumulative pressures to existing ecosystems.

Pilot Programs/Current Studies

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection published a report (April 2010) on the process of building adaptation into its climate change framework. The state has been involved in mitigation activities since 2004 and the Legislature directed the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop adaptation recommendations in 2009. The recommendations span the built, natural, coastal, and social environments and have been passed on to the State Legislature as of February 2010. In 2003, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was charged by the State Legislature with developing a mitigation plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; this effort resulted in the 2004 Maine Climate Action Plan. In 2009, the University of Maine released the climate impact assessment, Maine’s Climate Future, which projected increased sea level rise, ocean acidification, air and water temperatures, and storm events for the state. Based on this assessment, the Legislature again requested that DEP take action on climate change, this time by developing adaptation options for the state. Gregg, R. M. (2010). Adapting People and Nature to Maine's Changing Climate [Case study on a project of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection].

For More Information

For the Maine Adaptation Report visit:

For the Maine Greenhouse Gas plan visit:

For more information about climate change issues, contact Malcolm Burson at (207)287-7755 or .


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