18_06_2015, Mar Cabeza, Conservation in the face of Climate Change
Increasing understanding of current and potential impacts of climate change has started to influence research and practice of conservation planning. In this talk, I will give an overview of the work our team does regarding the assessments of climate change impacts, and how assessments and projections can be integrated into conservation plans. I will show how policy and applications lack behind scientific knowledge and highlight important gaps that are unattended by conservation science. But in particular, I will focus on trade-offs. Conservation is often about tradeoffs: tradeoffs between biodiversity and economic interests or trade-offs between the different biodiversity features we want to save. Climate change adds yet another dimension to the trade-offs to be considered and balanced. The optimal allocation of conservation resources in the present is likely largely suboptimal for future conservation. Consequently, there is a need for proactive planning given projected climatic changes. Sophisticated methods for spatial conservation planning have been developed to account for the shifting distributions of species under climate. These approaches often target areas expected to remain climatically suitable, and/or areas that expected to receive species tracking climate change, either functioning as linking corridors or becoming future distribution cores. While aiming at having continuity of spatial protection for many species through time, resources are being cut back from current conservation needs. Yet often such planning exercises rely on rather uncertain future projections, giving equal weight to present distributions and projections. Endorsing the need for proactive planning, I will present examples of such present/future trade-offs and discuss ways of balancing them while accounting for uncertainties in projections. I will then revise whether current EU conservation funding schemes, such as cohesion funds, support near-future conservation needs and proactive conservation. In finishing, I will discuss additional trade-offs that require consideration when planning for climate change at the EU-level, including mitigation and adaptation trade-offs.