A new study, reviewing a suite of published scientific research, provides evidence that conservation action can help species adapt to a changing climate.
This offers hope that conservation can play a key role in safeguarding species and their populations.
Climate change is increasingly affecting natural ecosystems around the world, fuelling growing concern about its potential to drive many species towards extinction. Whilst limiting greenhouse gas emissions will reduce the magnitude of future climate change, there is also an urgent need to understand whether effective conservation action can also help vulnerable species to cope with climate change (termed ‘adaptation’).
A newly published study, led by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and involving Nottingham Trent University, addresses this gap by reviewing the conservation literature, including that collated by Conservation Evidence, to identify studies which test the effectiveness of conservation actions on species’ populations also affected by climatic factors.
Out of the 77 studies identified (from the thousands examined), 62 (81%) reported at least one beneficial response to the conservation actions taken, highlighting growing evidence that conservation actions can indeed help vulnerable species cope with climate change.
Successful measures included restoring native vegetation to reduce the negative impacts of drought, maintaining an effective protected area network to help species shift their distribution in response to climate change, and actively managing vulnerable populations so they can cope with climatic extremes such as flooding or high temperatures.
Conservation interventions targeted at the recovery of individual species were estimated to be the most effective, demonstrating benefit on three quarters of occasions.
Although wider conservation interventions, such as the establishment of protected areas or habitat management, were estimated to be less beneficial for individual species, the fact that such measures are likely to influence a larger number of species than more targeted actions means that they are also worthwhile in a changing climate.
Posted On: 19/05/2022