Managing Seagrasses for Resilience to Climate Change

Seagrasses are flowering plants that thrive in shallow oceanic and estuarine waters around the world. Although there are only about 60 species of seagrasses worldwide, these plants play an important role in many shallow, near-shore, marine ecosystems. There is growing evidence that seagrasses are declining globally because of anthropogenic impacts. This paper presents an overview of seagrasses, the impacts of climate change, and other threats to seagrass habitats. Finally, it proposes tools and strategies for managers to help support seagrass resilience.

Scientific Design of a Resilient Network of Marine Protected Areas Kimbe Bay, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea

The Nature Conservancy’s vision for Kimbe Bay is to “Harness traditional and community values to protect and use land and sea resources in ways that maintain the exceptional natural and cultural heritage of the bay”. This will be achieved by working with local communities, governments and other stakeholders to establish a resilient network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and develop strategies for improved management of marine resources and land use practices. This report focuses on a critical step in this process– designing a resilient network of MPAs for Kimbe Bay.

Buying Time: A User’s Manual to Building Resistance and Resilience to Climate Change in Natural Systems

As we stand at the beginning of the new millennium, the threats to nature and protected areas are unprecedented. While some progress has been made and strategies such as protected areas have been successful in preserving biodiversity in some places, new threats are arising. None of these threats is as great as global climate change and none will have such large implications for the way natural resource managers plan and implement conservation strategies.While global climate change is seemingly difficult to understand and plan for, planning is essential, as the conservation approaches of the past may not work in an ever-changing warmer world. New strategies, led by deep cuts in the heat-trapping gases that causes climate change, predominately carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, may at least buy some time for ecosystems to adapt in the years and decades ahead. However, if CO2 emissions are not reduced quickly and deeply, some of those treasured ecosystems will not survive.Climate change is happening now and nature is experiencing its impacts first. Whether one looks at coral reefs, mangroves, arctic areas or montane regions, climate change poses a complex and bewildering array of problems for ecosystems. The key question is, what can be done—in addition to the rapid reduction of CO2 emissions now—to increase the resiliency of these ecosystems to climate change?WWF compiled “Buying Time: A User’s Manual for Building Resistance and Resilience to Climate Change in Natural Systems” for natural resource managers who are ready to confront the impacts of climate change. While far from comprehensive, this manual brings together assessments and potential initial adaptation strategies for various biomes.Written by experts, the manual addresses all of the major biomes with practical ideas of how to begin increasing the resiliency of ecosystems and plan our protected areas in response to the threat of climate change. Some of these strategies are in line with the conservation strategies we have been working on for years—reducing fragmentation, building corridors, reducing threats, and increasing resiliency in general. Natural resource managers in the field must begin planning to buy time for these biomes while the world works to switch from coal to clean power, a key strategy to reduce the causes of climate change.Looking at the models and gathering empirical evidence, WWF is recommending that natural resource managers start now to build climate change adaptation strategies into their preservation philosophies and plans. This manual is a first step to assist managers in doing so.While testing and implementing these new conservation strategies, managers should also communicate the threat that climate change poses to their biome to local, regional and national authorities. Resource managers have an important role to play in the climate change debate by using examples of changes seen in their regions as indicators of the need for rapid and deep cuts in CO2 emissions.

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.