Managed relocation is defined as the movement of species, populations, or genotypes to places outside the areas of their historical distributions to maintain biological diversity or ecosystem functioning with changing climate. It has been claimed that a major extinction event is under way and that climate change is increasing its severity. Projections indicating that climate change may drive substantial losses of biodiversity have compelled some scientists to suggest that traditional management strategies are insufficient. The managed relocation of species is a controversial management response to climate change. The published literature has emphasized biological concerns over difficult ethical, legal, and policy issues. Furthermore, ongoing managed relocation actions lack scientific and societal engagement. Our interdisciplinary team considered ethics, law, policy, ecology, and natural resources management in order to identify the key issues of managed relocation relevant for developing sound policies that support decisions for resource management. We recommend that government agencies develop and adopt best practices for managed relocation.
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This article is dedicated to Stephen H. Schneider, who was a member of the Managed Relocation Working Group and a tireless advocate for careful deliberation of climate change issues involving both scientific analysis and social values. He was a giant in our field and a friend and mentor to many of the authors of this article. This work was supported by National Science Foundation grants no. DEB 0741792 and no. DEB 0741921 in support of the Managed Relocation Working Group and by a Cedar Tree Foundation grant.