Protected area needs in a changing climate

TitleProtected area needs in a changing climate
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsHannah, L, Midgley, G, Andelman, S, Araújo, M, Hughes, G, Martinez-Meyer, E, Pearson, R, Williams, P
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Range shifts due to climate change may cause species to move out of protected areas. Climate change could therefore result in species range dynamics that reduce the relevance of current fixed protected areas in future conservation strategies. Here, we apply species distribution modeling and conservation planning tools in three regions (Mexico, the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa, and Western Europe) to examine the need for additional protected areas in light of anticipated species range shifts caused by climate change. We set species representation targets and assessed the area required to meet those targets in the present and in the future, under a moderate climate change scenario. Our findings indicate that protected areas can be an important conservation strategy in such a scenario, and that early action may be both more effective and less costly than inaction or delayed action. According to our projections, costs may vary among regions and none of the three areas studied will fully meet all conservation targets, even under a moderate climate change scenario. This suggests that limiting climate change is an essential complement to adding protected areas for conservation of biodiversity.