Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Forestry and Conservation

Current scientific and empirical evidence on impact of climate change on biodiversity, forestry and conservation

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Effective mitigation is predicated on the conviction that: immediate synergistic work is a necessity and not a choice; collaborative effort by all parties will be the most useful method of devising strategies that are conceptually relevant, technically possible, and effective. The importance of networking and collaboration beyond the traditional efforts can not be stressed enough. Strategies that explore opportunities from all stakeholders will be stronger than can be devised by working in isolation. For example (IF TRUE), Madagascar is a top global conservation priority owing to its high levels of endemism and extensive habitat loss. Recently a vulnerability assessment of climate change and biodiversity for the island (reference needed) was completed, addressing both marine and terrestrial environments, and generating a set of recommendations for adaptation of conservation strategies necessary to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

While there will be a natural tendency to fight Climate Change and preserve existing niches, species, and systems, flexibility and realistic appreciation and acceptance of Climate Change in some form can produce greater benefits and counterbalance the changes that will happen whether we judge them negative or not, using our own species value system The following are recommendations to this end:

Encourage and facilitate collaborations to help translate new scientific insights into explicit conservation planning decisions.
Develop direct feedbacks between researchers and site-specific conservation efforts.
Identify gaps in knowledge that can be addressed by expert research teams
Promote science issues and research identified via place-based learning.
Develop realistic goals for adaptation, to evaluate ecological and socioeconomic tradeoffs among management alternatives, and to critically evaluate project outcomes.
a. Mitigation: reduce emissions (policy task)

b. Increase/improve??? Corridors or stepping stones (Williams et al. 05)

c. Include protected areas in portfolio of world preserves

d. Assist migration of certain species

e. Create and maintain seed banks, gene banks

f. Create and maintain grass and other forage banks

*****Though I like the below, I am torn between promoting one theory/group/issue and thus will leave it to the C4 team to decide how to integrate. JL ****

One group in the US has started addressing these issues head-on by bringing around the table both field expert and modelers to come up with a set of recommendations based on 3 practical examples. C4 Solutions seeks to accomplish four initial goals:

1) To generate the best possible scientific understanding of the biological impacts of climate change, and thus inform science-based conservation responses, by creating coalitions of ecologists and land managers and synthesizing talents among the wider conservation community.

2) To close the gap between the generation and application of knowledge by linking scientists and practitioners at local levels.

3) To improve local models of climate change impacts, and thereby increase the site-specific applicability of climate models.

4) To leverage limited human and financial resources to facilitate all of the above.

An international group (bioDISCOVERY) funded by the international IGBP group, is also approaching the same problem and has delineated a series of tasks:

Evaluate and improve the degree to which observations, experiments and models provide a coherent picture of past and future changes in biodiversity , especially in studying the interactive effects of multiple drivers.
Encourage syntheses of existing observational and experimental data: for example the impacts of fire and herbivory on biodiversity as fire regimes and food quality changes with climate.
b. Support the development of a new generation of global change experiments that treat interactions between multiple drivers : there have been relatively few multi-factor, global change experiments (but see Zavaleta 2003), but the number is rapidly increasing in terrestrial ecosystems. Freshwater ecosystems need to be included in regional analyses of climate change impacts. Combined impacts of changes on flow regimes, vegetation shifts and associated changes in evaporation and transpiration fluxes, and coastal sea level rise have not been documented.

c. Organize comparisons of observations, experiments and models: Changes in species abundance and distribution in historical or paleological records can be used to test the response of models to climate or habitat modification; observed distributions of introduced species can be used to test the capacity of models to correctly model species distributions in novel environments

d. Assess the potential impacts of emerging drivers of biodiversity such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and biofuels: A number of additional factors - such as GMOs and biofuels - are very recently emerging as potentially potent drivers of future biodiversity change. The potential positive and negative effects of these emergent drivers must be rapidly assessed and then included in global change scenarios.

2. Develop improved scenarios of future biodiversity change that explicitly treat multiple sources of uncertainty

a. Create stronger links with climate modelers

b. Support the improvement in the treatment of uncertainty arising from climate models and of biodiversity response

c. Encourage the development of novel approaches to modeling biodiversity response: No biodiversity response model currently simulates the abundance and distribution of a wide range of species or species groups to global change based on mechanisms that describe functional




(1) Winter Ecard: Polar bear, Churchill, Canada, Lindsey P. Martin