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