A network of wildlife areas can help species survive future climate change

June 2nd, 2009 - 3:33 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 2 (ANI): A new research has demonstrated that a network of wildlife areas can be a crucial tool to help biodiversity survive future climate change.

The research team, led by Durham University, including BirdLife International and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) looked at the effects of climate change on 815 bird species of conservation concern in sub-Saharan Africa and on the network of sites designated for them (termed Important Bird Areas).

The findings suggest an urgent need for legislators to protect eco-systems 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 to move to find new climatically suitable areas.

The team, led by Dr Stephen Willis and Dr David Hole from the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Durham University, used simulation models to see how climate change might affect birds in Important Bird Areas (IBAs), in the coming decades under a scenario of moderate climate change.

The researchers looked at a network of 863 IBA sites across 42 countries and territories covering around 2,079,306 square kms (1,292,020 square miles) or 7 per cent of the African continent.

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.

According to Dr Willis, “We looked at bird species across the whole network of protected areas in Africa and the results show that wildlife conservation areas will be essential for the future survival of many species of birds.”

“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,” he said.

“The survival of much of the planet’s biodiversity under climate change will depend upon adequate protection for biodiverse ecosystems, the IBAs within them, and support for the people who depend on them,” said Dr Stuart Butchart, Global Research Coordinator at BirdLife International. (ANI)

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