Climate-ready conservation objectives: A scoping study

Authors: Michael Dunlop, Hannah Parris, Paul Ryan and Frederieke Kroon
Year: 2013

Under significant levels of climate change many of the current approaches to conservation (such as maintaining community types in their current locations) will become increasingly difficult and ineffective. This project developed three adaptation propositions about managing biodiversity that define a new way of framing conservation named the ‘climate ready’ approach. It is proposed that conservation strategies should: 1) accommodate large amounts of ecological change and the likelihood of significant climate changeinduced loss in biodiversity, 2) remain relevant and feasible under a range of possible future trajectories of ecological change, and 3) seek to conserve the multiple different dimensions of biodiversity that are experienced and valued by society. The project used a review of 26 conservation strategy documents (spanning scales from international to local) and four case studies with Australian conservation agencies to test, refine and explore the implications of the climate-ready approach developed in this project. The case studies included the Northern Rivers and Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authorities, the Tasmanian Central Plateau, and Ramsar Wetlands. The climate-ready approach was found to be robust and highly relevant – in the majority of situations, if adopted, it would lead to significant changes in the objectives and priorities of conservation. However, the full adoption of a climate-ready approach was constrained by the need for further development of ecological characterisation of ecosystem health and human activities in landscapes; a much better understanding of how society values different aspects of biodiversity; and the development of policy tools to codify and implement new ecologically robust and socially endorsed objectives. This report also contains guidelines for a tool to help natural resource managers develop climate ready biodiversity conservation objectives

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