From: UniversityofCalifornia - San Diego
Published March 2, 2008 08:30 AM
Their study, published online February 28 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, provides a guide for conservationists of the areas of our planet where conservation investments would have the most impact in the future to limit extinctions and damage to ecosystems due to rapid human-driven climate and land-use change.
The researchers found that many of the regions that face the greatest habitat change in relation to the amount of land currently protected such as Indonesia and Madagascar are in globally threatened and endemic species rich, developing nations that have the fest resources for conservation. Conversely, many of the temperate regions of the planet with an already expansive network of reserves are in countries such as Austria, Germany, and Switzerland with the greatest financial resources for conservation efforts, but comparatively less biodiversity under threat.
"While many details still have to be worked out, our study is a first baseline attempt on a global scale to quantitatively demonstrate the urgent need to plan reserves and other conservation efforts in view of future global change impacts," he added. "Reserves have often been set up haphazardly, following some national goal, such as to preserve 10 percent of a country's area, or in response to past threats. But little consideration has been given to the actual geography of future threats in relation to biodiversity. Yet it's those future threats that expose biodiversity to extinction."
To conduct their study, the researchers examined the impact of climate and land use changes on networks of biological reserves around the world and contrasted them to four projections of future globalwarming, agricultural expansion and human population growth from the global Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. They discovered that past human impacts on the land poorly predicted the future impacts of climatechange, revealing the inadequacy of current global conservation plans.