Sanctuaries can save 90 percent bird species as climate changes

June 2nd, 2009 - 2:10 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 2 (IANS) A network of wildlife conservation areas can help save up to 90 percent of bird species in Africa, affected by climate change, according to scientists.
The research team, led by Durham University (DU) and including BirdLife International looked at the effects of climate change on 815 bird species of conservation concern in sub-Saharan Africa.

The study demonstrates that a network of wildlife areas will be a crucial tool to help biodiversity survive future climate change. The findings suggest an urgent need for legislators to protect ecosystems and key wildlife areas in Africa.

They show that, over the next 75 years, the biodiversity of some regions will suffer more than others as a result of climate change. They also underline the importance of providing ‘green corridors’ to help wildlife move to find new climatically-suitable areas.

The team led by Stephen Willis and David Hole from the School of Biological and

Biomedical Sciences, Durham University, used simulation models to see how climate change might affect birds in important bird areas (IBA), in the coming decades.

Researchers looked at a network of 863 IBA sites across 42 countries and territories

covering around 2,079,306 square km (1.3 million sq miles) or seven percent of the African landmass.

The sites are identified as being critical for the conservation of birds, in particular, species that are globally threatened, restricted in range or restricted to particular biomes. Together, African IBAs are home to 875 of these species, said a DU release.

“Important Bird Areas will provide new habitats for birds that are forced to move as

temperatures and rainfall change and food sources become scarce in the areas where they currently occur. Protected areas are a vital conservation tool to help birds adapt to climate change in the 21st century,” said Wills.

The study was published in the journal Ecology Letters.

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