When it comes to climate change, coastal habitats are among the most vulnerable. Perhaps that’s why there was a full house at the Vineyard Conservation Society’s annual meeting Tuesday evening for a presentation on climate change habitat impacts. That and the fact that the Vineyard Conservation Society works hard to educate the Island community about climate change.

Impacts of climate change already underway on the Island include higher temperatures, more rain, erosion and inundation of the land due to sea level rise, and more frequent droughts. The speaker was Tim Simmons, habitat restoration ecologist for the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.

Massachusetts is heading south, climate-wise. In 30 years, said Mr. Simmons, the climate here will be like that of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. By the end of the century it could be more like South Carolina.

The talk was titled Responding to Climate Change: Habitat impacts and management implications of predicted climate disruption in southern New England with emphasis on Martha’s Vineyard.

In terms of local habitat protection Mr. Simmons hit on some important goals in the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s Island Plan, such as safeguarding the most important natural areas of the Island as open space and restoration of the forest for biodiversity, recreation and natural character. He strongly supports the use of management techniques such as prescribed burning.

“Water,” said Mr. Simmons, “is critical to every function of life,” and he put water quality protection at the top of his own to-do list. His others priorities include:

• Reduce impediments to wildlife movement;

• Improve extreme event predictions;

• Manage Island landscapes and ecosystems collaboratively;

• Develop an Island-wide fire management plan for public safety and habitat needs.

Fire was a recurring topic. More drought will cause more frequent and catastrophic fires. Thirty per cent of Massachusetts fauna depends on fire, wild or otherwise. Forests are important but so are prescribed burns. An Islandwide fire management plan is critical and federally approved fire plans are eligible for federal funding, including homeland security dollars.

Mr. Simmons encouraged an Islandwide multi-agency management plan that targets all species and habitats. “It would be ideal for the Island,” he said.

Other climate change threats to habitat are invasive species, pollution, and the “hyper-abundant deer.” It’s important to promote more deer hunting, he said, because the option is “forest death.”

An obvious theme ran through the presentation: climate change is a regional problem involving many segments of Island society — environmental protection, health and human safety, and planning, for starters.

Collaboration is not an option; it’s a must.