Resource-dependent communities are likely to be disproportionately affected by climate change. Yet, natural resource management policies continue to be developed and implemented without considering climate change adaptation. We highlight that this lack of coordination is potentially harmful to natural resources and resource-dependent communities with an example from the Tibetan Plateau, a region where climate is changing rapidly. Tibetan pastoralists inhabit rangelands that are the focus of recent development and management policies that promote fencing, sedentarization, individual rangeland use rights, and the elimination of grazing in some areas. These policies may have a negative effect on herders’ ability to adapt to climate change. China’s National Climate Change Programme lists controlling or eliminating grazing in some areas as key for adaptation to climate change, but experimental results indicate that grazing may buffer the rangelands from the negative effects of warming. These findings indicate that policies that support the well-developed strategies of resource-dependent communities for living in uncertain and variable environments can also enhance adaptation of these social and ecological systems to climate change. We conclude that management and environmental protection policies developed separately from climate change policy face increased failure potential and may decrease the ability of natural resources and the communities that depend upon them to successfully adapt to climate change.