Climate change adaptation guidelines for arid zone aquatic ecosystems and freshwater biodiversity

Authors: Jenny Davis, Paul Sunnucks, Ross Thompson, Lien Sim, Alexandra Pavlova, Alejandra Morán-Ordóñez, Jayne Brim Box, Glenis McBurnie, Adrian Pinder, Satish Choy, Dale McNeil, Jane Hughes, Fran Sheldon and Brian Timms
Year: 2013

These guidelines are intended to provide guidance for climate change adaptation policy development, planning and on-ground actions in the context of arid zone aquatic ecosystems and freshwater biodiversity. The major goal of these guidelines is to reduce the risk of the loss of aquatic habitats, deteriorating water quality and the extinction of aquatic and water-dependent species. A portfolio of adaptation approaches encompassing, habitat, water resources and dependent species is proposed within a framework of strategic adaptive management. This is important because there is some uncertainty as to how climatic changes will play out across the arid zone with respect to water availability. In the southern regions it is likely that annual rainfall will decrease, while an increase may occur in northern regions. This document presents nine key adaptation strategies accompanied by explanations of their value for climate change adaptation in the context of managing arid zone aquatic ecosystems and freshwater biodiversity. The nine key adaptation strategies are as follows: 1) Identifying assets: compiling spatial information on the major types of arid zone aquatic ecosystems and the water resources that sustain them; 2) Maintaining critical habitats: recognising evolutionary refugia and ecological refuges as priority sites for arid zone climate adaptation planning and policy; 3) Maintaining a dynamic matrix of perennial and temporary waters; 4) Maintaining connectivity and other key processes; 5) Vulnerability assessments to determine the climate sensitivity and likely persistence of key habitats; 6) Reducing risk by reducing existing stressors (especially invasive species); 7) Recognising adaptation opportunities new water and novel ecosystems; 8) Implementing climate adaptations within in a strategic adaptive management framework; 9) Supporting indigenous and local community engagement and education

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