Forecasting the Effects of Climate Change on Biodiversity: Visualizing Change to Inspire Public Action

Climate change impacts to the species and ecosystems upon which human economic and ecological well-being depends receive relatively little attention from the media and the general public. Ecological forecasts of future climate impacts on the geographic ranges of iconic species produce models depicting alternative scenarios that vary dramatically in their degree of projected changes. Using the IPCC’s latest climate model outputs and greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, scientists and science visualization specialists from the California Academy of Sciences are creating multimedia presentations that convey two different trajectories for Earth (and our) future, told through the lens of wildlife icons such as the jaguar and wolverine. These science-based results translate into educational ‘global change vignettes’ that introduce the public to alternative potential futures for the species and landscapes to which they are connected. In this way, the diffuse issue of global climate change becomes more personal, and the viewer may be motivated to become part of the solution that creates the more positive outcome.

Adaptation of Forest Ecosystems and the Forest Sector to Climate Change

This document has been prepared jointly by FAO and Intercooperation. It is intended to assist policymakers and other professionals involved in the planning, project formulation or implementation of adaptation measures for climate change in forest ecosystems. It is of particular interest to the people who deal with national communications to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This document summarizes information that facilitates the definition and formulation of policies and projects aimed at decreasing vulnerability to climate change, with special emphasis on forest ecosystems and the social groups that depend on them. It emphasizes that adaptation to climate change must be part of a country’s development process, and that every adaptation action should be framed within the national development policies.

Rethinking Community-Based Conservation

Community-based conservation (CBC) is based on the idea that if conservation and development could be simultaneously achieved, then the interests of both could be served. It has been controversial because community development objectives are not necessarily consistent with conservation objectives in a given case. I examined CBC from two angles. First, CBC can be seen in the context of paradigm shifts in ecology and applied ecology. I identified three conceptual shifts—toward a systems view, toward the inclusion of humans in the ecosystem, and toward participatory approaches to ecosystem management—that are interrelated and pertain to an understanding of ecosystems as complex adaptive systems in which humans are an integral part. Second, I investigated the feasibility of CBC, as informed by a number of emerging interdisciplinary fields that have been pursuing various aspects of coupled systems of humans and nature. These fields—common property, traditional ecological knowledge, environmental ethics, political ecology, and environmental history—provide insights for CBC. They may contribute to the development of an interdisciplinary conservation science with a more sophisticated understanding of social-ecological interactions. The lessons from these fields include the importance of cross-scale conservation, adaptive comanagement, the question of incentives and multiple stakeholders, the use of traditional ecological knowledge, and development of a cross-cultural conservation ethic.

Climate Change-Integrated Conservation Strategies

Aim: Conservation strategies currently include little consideration of climate change. Insights about the biotic impacts of climate change from biogeography and palaeoecology, therefore, have the potential to provide significant improvements in the effectiveness of conservation planning. We suggest a collaboration involving biogeography, ecology and applied conservation. The resulting Climate Change-integrated Conservation Strategies (CCS) apply available tools to respond to the conservation challenges posed by climate change.Location: The focus of this analysis is global, with special reference to high biodiversity areas vulnerable to climate change, particularly tropical montane settings.Methods: Current tools from climatology, biogeography and ecology applicable to conservation planning in response to climate change are reviewed. Conservation challenges posed by climate change are summarized. CCS elements are elaborated that use available tools to respond to these challenges.Results: Five elements of CCS are described: regional modelling; expanding protected areas; management of the matrix; regional coordination; and transfer of resources. Regional modelling uses regional climate models, biotic response models and sensitivity analysis to identify climate change impacts on biodiversity at a regional scale appropriate for conservation planning. Expansion of protected areas management and systems within the planning region are based on modelling results. Management of the matrix between protected areas provides continuity for processes and species range shifts outside of parks. Regional coordination of park and off-park efforts allows harmonization of conservation goals across provincial and national boundaries. Finally, implementation of these CCS elements in the most biodiverse regions of the world will require technical and financial transfer of resources on a global scale.Main conclusions: Collaboration across disciplines is necessary to plan conservation responses to climate change adequately. Biogeography and ecology provide insights into the effects of climate change on biodiversity that have not yet been fully integrated into conservation biology and applied conservation management. CCS provide a framework in which biogeographers, ecologists and conservation managers can collaborate to address this need. These planning exercises take place on a regional level, driven by regional climate models as well as general circulation models (GCMs), to ensure that regional climate drivers such as land use change and mesoscale topography are adequately represented. Sensitivity analysis can help address the substantial uncertainty inherent in projecting future climates and biodiversity response.