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Adapting to Climate Change

Recommended Reading: Adapting to climate change: guidance for protected area managers and planners

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Abstract: The world’s climate is changing rapidly and protected areas are an increasingly important component of national and international climate change adaptation strategies. These guidelines articulate essential elements for adaptation planning and implementation, and it describes additional resources that site managers can use right away.

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Library Info

https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/PAG-024.pdf (PDF)

https://twitter.com/IUCNclimatePASG

Excerpt
Climate change is one of the most important threats to nature and it will increasingly challenge the way we manage protected areas. Some of the changes already underway due to the rapidly changing climate include rising global temperatures, large-scale melting of snow and ice, longer and more frequent droughts, changes in the intensity and timing of storms, changes in the timing of seasons, rising sea level and associated impacts along coastlines, and increased acidification of marine environments. In response to these changes, some plant and animal ranges are shifting and the timing of seasonal events are being disrupted. In some cases, entire ecological regions are rapidly changing, especially in polar, alpine, coral and forest ecosystems. Climatically-driven changes interact with many other environmental stresses, such as habitat fragmentation and loss, pollution, spread of invasive species, and overharvest. The impacts of many of these stresses are cumulative.

The challenge of managing the cumulative impacts of climate change and other stresses on protected areas is large, but there is much we can do. In fact, protected area managers and planners play a critical role in mounting an effective societal response. Protected areas hold great promise because they provide “natural solutions” to climate change and its associated effects. The relatively intact ecosystems within protected areas contribute benefits and effective solutions across many sectors of human society, including providing significant carbon sequestration and storage, clean water, resilience to storms and other natural hazards, and a host of other ecosystem services. Additionally, large intact protected areas allow many species to adapt to the rapidly changing climate by providing refugial habitat and the room needed for species to move and respond to changing local conditions. Every protected area has a role to play, but climate adaptation often requires different approaches to protected area management. To be part of the solution, protected areas must be managed in a way that takes climate change into account.

Climate change response can be divided into “mitigation” (actions that reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere) and “adaptation” (an adjustment by human or natural systems to the changing climate). Protected area managers must do all that they can to enhance the ability of natural systems to capture and store carbon and to reduce emissions from protected area operations. But the primary focus of these guidelines is on adaptation. The world’s climate is changing rapidly and protected areas are an increasingly important component of national and international climate change adaptation strategies. These guidelines articulate essential elements for adaptation planning and implementation, and it describes additional resources that site managers can use right away.

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