Protecting and restoring habitat to help Australia’s threatened species adapt to climate change

Authors: Ramona Maggini, Heini Kujala, Martin Taylor, Jasmine Lee, Hugh Possingham, Brendan Wintle and Richard Fuller
Year: 2013

This project predicted the impacts of climate change on the distribution of 504 threatened species listed on the EPBC Act and found the best options for climate adaptation via protecting and restoring their habitat. Fifty-nine of the 355 threatened plant species and 11 of the 149 threatened animals considered could completely lose their climatically suitable range by 2085 under the most pessimistic (business as usual) climate change scenario, while four plant species face almost certain extinction due to complete loss of suitable range even under the most optimistic mitigation scenario tested. Climate is predicted to become unsuitable across more than half of their geographic distribution for 310 (61%) of the modelled species under the business-as-usual scenario and for 80 (16%) species under the early mitigation scenario. the 504 threatened species considered in this study require an increase of between 838,077 km2 and 878,590 km2 in areas protected against loss or degradation either through legislation to protect habitat, designation of protected areas, or negotiations of long-lasting voluntary conservation covenants. For an available budget of $3 billion, protecting an additional 877,415 km2 of intact habitat, and restoring 1,190 km2 of degraded habitat immediately was identified by the analysis as the optimal set of actions to help the 504 threatened species adapt to climate change assuming early mitigation. Under a more pessimistic business-as usual climate change scenario, 837,914 km2 of protection is required, along with 77 km2 of restoration. In all cases, appropriate threat management within the protected areas is required

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