Wild cards are improbable, high impact events. Such events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, have the ability to shape policy by upending entire systems and paradigms. Unfortunately, long-term planning and policymaking rarely account for wild card events. Instead, planning and policymaking typically assume that existing trends will continue without major disruption. Moreover, adequately planning for potential wild card events is challenging because they are inherently difficult to predict. However, planning for wild card events in natural resources and environmental policymaking is vital as global developments, such as climate change, create more extreme conditions and challenges. This review, (1) defines and characterizes wild cards, (2) explains three distinct types of wild cards, (3) explores strategies to identify, assess, manage, and monitor wild cards, and (4) concludes by summarizes the importance of incorporating an analysis of wild cards in natural resource and environmental planning.

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