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Impacts and adaptations to climate change in the biodiversity sector in southern Africa

Publication date:
R. Scholes
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This study is about the vulnerability of aspects of biodiversity to climate change in South Africa. Three case studies were used to develop and test tools and methodologies for better understanding the response of species and ecosystems to the predicted impacts of climate change.
The study makes a number of recommendations.
National issues:

systematic biodiversity conservation needs to plan for change, and not assume that the future will be like the past
conservation biologists need to break from the old paradigm that species should only be located in areas where they historically occurred
the protected area system can be configured to improve the protection it provides against climate change, including making provision for species movement
given current economic and land use realities, it is unlikely that the protected area system can be sufficiently reconfigured to achive species conservation targets. Conservation authorities therefore need to maximise off reserve conservation, which is both cost effective and provides more spatial options. 

 Regional issues:

transfrontier movement of biodiverisity will be important given climate change
as a result, regional strategic conservation planning needs to consider park configuration to best protect against the impacts of climate change
regional capacity building, especially in SADC countries other than South Africa is needed for these countries to develop sufficient capacity to deal with adaptations to climate change.

Global issues:

the cost to biodiversity, in both utilitarian and intrinsic terms, of anthropogenic climate change is high, and needs to be better understood and communicated.

Future directions and research needs:

consider the impacts of biodiversity loss on income and livelihood strategies
move from case studies to national strategic assessment
conduct sub-regional assessment of the level of threat
undertake detailed studies on threatened genera
build capacity in other SADC countries.