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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: May 2011

16 - Assessing the effectiveness of a protected area network in the face of climatic change

from Section 4 - Conservation



Climatic change is expected to result in changes in species' distributions. However, current networks of protected areas, designed to conserve biodiversity, have been designated and designed on the basis of a paradigm of long-term stability of species' geographical distributions. As a result, these networks may not be effective in conserving biodiversity in a world with rapidly changing climatic conditions. We investigate this using as a model system the 1679 bird species breeding in sub-Saharan Africa and the network of 803 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) designated in the region by Bird Life International. Using climatic envelope models fitted to species' present distributions and the current climate, species' present and potential future occurrences in IBAs were simulated. The results show that the current network has the potential to maintain most species throughout the present century. However, they also indicate that this outcome depends upon substantial potential species turnover in many IBAs. This is only likely if the connectivity of the current network is enhanced substantially in key areas, and will also depend upon sympathetic management of the wider landscape, so as to enhance its permeability, and appropriate management of individual sites, taking into account their role in the overall network.


It is now generally accepted that anthropogenic activities have resulted in global climatic changes over the past century (Trenberth et al.,2007); they may even have done so over several millennia (Ruddiman, 2003).

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