Conservation strategies in response to rapid climate change: Australia as a case study
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As in all parts of the globe, rapid climate change in Australia will have significant negative impacts on biodiversity. It also will interact with pre-existing stressors such as native vegetation clearing, altered natural disturbance regimes and invasive species - all of which already have major negative effects on biota in Australia. Strategies to reduce climate change impacts on Australian biodiversity include a mixture of mitigation and adaptation actions (sensu Millar et al., 2007) such as: (1) significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, (2) ensuring bio-diverse carbon capture, (3) better tackling pre-existing stressors on biodiversity, (4) better preparing for the effects of major natural disturbances, (5) significantly improving off-reserve conservation efforts including fostering appropriate connectivity, and (6) enhancing the existing reserve system by making it more comprehensive, adequate and representative. The first strategy above demands a global response otherwise major mitigation attempts in Australia that are not paralleled elsewhere around the world will have little effect on climate change and, in turn, contribute little to enhanced biodiversity conservation. Strategies 2-6 demand multi-scaled responses, particularly at a regional level, given the major regional differences in direct climate change impacts and their interactions with pre-existing regional stressors. Well developed multi-scaled conservation plans to implement these strategies currently do not exist, nor do appropriate institutional arrangements and capacities. Institutional reforms are urgently needed in Australia to develop the land management, monitoring and regional response capabilities required to conserve biodiversity on a continent already significantly modified.
Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified