As World Warms, Conservation Evolves

Climate and Conservation offers a glimpse of climate change beyond images of melting Arctic ice—illustrating that landscapes and seascapes in places like the coastal Caribbean, mountainous eastern Australia, and the Brazilian Amazon are all susceptible to climate related impacts.

Co-edited by Drs. Jodi Hilty and Molly Cross of WCS, along with Dr. Charles Chester of Tufts and Brandeis Universities, the book reviews 19 case studies showing what communities, leading-edge scientists, conservationists, and others are doing to protect large landscapes as a means of conserving biodiversity in response to a warming planet.

“The case studies illustrate a global front to address climate change in our conservation activities,” said co-editor and WCS North America Program Director Dr. Jodi Hilty. “While each area may face unique threats, common threads include potential loss of biodiversity and ecosystem health, and in some cases, human livelihoods.”

The case studies provided in the book feature a fascinating array of projects illustrating the integration of climate change adaptation into conservation–planning:

• In central and eastern Mongolia, the creation of grass “banks” ensure that wildlife such as the endangered Mongolian gazelle have sufficient land for grazing, while also providing a place for nomadic herdsmen to graze livestock during drought years brought about by climate change.

• In Bangladesh, use of freshwater dolphins as bellwethers of climate-related saltwater intrusion informs proactive management of the Bangladesh mangroves and fishing areas for the benefit of people and wildlife.

• In Fiji, conservation strategies are focusing on increasing the capacity of local communities to manage the diverse natural resources of the Vatu-i-Ra seascape in ways that mutually benefit humans and biodiversity—including taking action to increase the resilience of coral reefs that can be affected by climate change.

• In the Yellowstone to Yukon region of North America, proactive planning and implementation will allow wildlife to move up and down the Rocky Mountains in response to climate change, and for communities to sustain the benefits of natural resources.

“While warming temperatures threaten to redefine landscapes globally, different regions face a unique set of challenges resulting from climate change and each will need to strategize its response based on those circumstances,” said co-editor and WCS Scientist Dr. Molly Cross. “The book is intended to offer conservationists and others guidance in incorporating changing climate into their projects and thinking about conservation on a regional scale.”

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