The inequity in climate change

The countries responsible for most greenhouse emissions incur the least impacts whereas those least responsible bear the greatest cost. How unfair is that? Read full story here.

Does the social equitability of community and incentive based conservation interventions in non-OECD

An increasing number of conservation interventions aim to reduce their negative impacts on vulnerable people and to provide incentives aimed at improving overall human well-being. Community and incentive based conservation interventions have had variable rates of success in producing well-being outcomes, yet it is unclear why. Researchers have hypothesised that socially equitable conservation interventions will improve their likelihood of success. However, for community and incentive based interventions, there is a lack of evidence synthesis for the effect that social equity has on human well-being outcomes. Using this protocol, we will undertake a systematic review of relevant literature wi

Seeking convergence on the key concepts in ‘no net loss’ policy

Summary Biodiversity conservation policies incorporating a no net loss (NNL) principle are being implemented in many countries. However, there are linguistic and conceptual inconsistencies in the use of terms underlying these NNL policies. We identify inconsistencies that emerge in the usage of eight key terms and phrases associated with NNL policies: biodiversity, frames of reference (i.e. baselines, counterfactuals), no net loss, mitigation hierarchy, biodiversity offset, in‐kind/out‐of‐kind, direct/indirect and multipliers. For each term, we make recommendations to support conceptual convergence, reduce ambiguity and improve clarity in communication and policy documentation. However, we a

The broad footprint of climate change from genes to biomes to people

Climate change impacts have now been documented across every ecosystem on Earth, despite an average warming of only ~1°C so far. Here, we describe the full range and scale of climate change effects on global biodiversity that have been observed in natural systems. To do this, we identify a set of core ecological processes (32 in terrestrial and 31 each in marine and freshwater ecosystems) that underpin ecosystem functioning and support services to people. Of the 94 processes considered, 82% show evidence of impact from climate change in the peer-reviewed literature. Examples of observed impacts from meta-analyses and case studies go beyond well-established shifts in species ranges and change

Large seasonal and diurnal anthropogenic heat flux across four Australian cities

Anthropogenic heat release is a key component of the urban heat island. However, it is often excluded from studies of the urban heat island because reliable estimates are not available. This omission is important because anthropogenic heat can contribute up to 4ºC to the urban heat island, and increases heat stress to urban residents. The exclusion of anthropogenic heat means the urban heat island effect on temperatures may be under-estimated. Here we estimate anthropogenic heat for four Australian capital cities (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide) to inform the management of the urban heat island in a changing climate. Anthropogenic heat release was calculated using 2011 population c

Catastrophic declines in wilderness areas undermine global environment targets

Humans have altered terrestrial ecosystems for millennia [1], yet wilderness areas still remain as vital refugia where natural ecological and evolutionary processes operate with minimal human disturbance [2, 3, 4], underpinning key regional- and planetary-scale functions [5, 6]. Despite the myriad values of wilderness areas—as critical strongholds for endangered biodiversity [7], for carbon storage and sequestration [8], for buffering and regulating local climates [9], and for supporting many of the world’s most politically and economically marginalized communities [10]—they are almost entirely ignored in multilateral environmental agreements. This is because they are assumed to be relativel

Persistent disparities between recent rates of habitat conversion and protection and implications fo

Anthropogenic conversion of natural habitats is the greatest threat to biodiversity and one of the primary reasons for establishing protected areas (PAs). Here, we show that PA establishment outpaced habitat conversion between 1993 and 2009 across all biomes and the majority (n = 567, 71.4%) of ecoregions globally. However, high historic rates of conversion meant that 447 (56.2%) ecoregions still exhibit a high ratio of conversion to protection, and of these, 127 (15.9%) experienced further increases in this ratio between 1993 and 2009. We identify 41 “crisis ecoregions” in 45 countries where recent habitat conversion is severe and PA coverage remains extremely low. While the recent growth i

Formulating smart commitments on biodiversity: lessons from the Aichi Targets

The world is currently not on course to achieve most of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Targets to address biodiversity loss. One challenge for those implementing actions to achieve them may be the complexity and lack of clarity in the wording of the targets, which also make it difficult to stimulate and quantify progress. Drawing on experience in developing and measuring indicators to assess progress toward targets, we identify four key issues: ambiguity, quantifiability, complexity, and redundancy. The magnitude of required commitments under some targets is rendered ambiguous by the use of imprecise terms (e.g., “substantially”), while many targets contain poorly defined ope

Balancing ecosystem and threatened species representation in protected areas and implications for na

Balancing the representation of ecosystems and threatened species habitats is critical for optimizing protected area (PA) networks and achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity strategic goals. Here we provide a systematic approach for maximizing representativeness of ecosystems and threatened species within a constrained total PA network size, using Australia as a case study. We show that protection of 24.4% of Australia is needed to achieve 17% representation for each ecosystem and all threatened species habitat targets. When the size of the PA estate is constrained, trade‐off curves between ecosystem and species targets are J‐shaped, indicating potential “win‐win” configurations. F

Bring climate change back from the future

Watson, J.E.M (2016). Bring climate change back from the future. Nature, 534: 437. The ‘shock’ over an Australian extinction shows that we still don’t accept that global warming is a problem for now, says James Watson. Read it online here

Balancing Ecosystem and Threatened Species Representation in Protected Areas and Implications for Na

Polak, T., Watson, J.E.M., Bennett, J.R., Possingham, H.P., Fuller, R.A. and J. Carwardine (2016). Balancing Ecosystem and Threatened Species Representation in Protected Areas and Implications for Nations Achieving Global Conservation Goals. Conservation Letters. DOI: 10.1111/conl.12268 Balancing the representation of ecosystems and threatened species habitats is critical for optimizing protected area (PA) networks and achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity strategic goals. Here we provide a systematic approach for maximizing representativeness of ecosystems and threatened species within a constrained total PA network size, using Australia as a case study. We show that protection o

How can we save species from climate change?

Human forced climate change is affecting biodiversity in many ways, including changes in species ranges, mass coral bleaching events, and changes in timing of biological events (e.g. breeding or fruiting seasons). Additionally, human responses to climate change are also threatening biodiversity, through agricultural expansion, construction of seawalls and changes in fishing areas. These affects are likely to worsen in the future, with climate change likely to become the main cause of species extinction over the coming century. The need for conservation scientists to deal with the challenges posed by climate change is widely recognised, and numerous approaches have been developed to spatially

Incorporating climate change into spatial conservation prioritisation: A review

Jones, K., Watson, J.E.M, Possingham, H.P. and C.J. Klein (2016). Incorporating climate change into spatial conservation prioritization: A Review. Biological Conservation, 194: 121- 130. To ensure the long-term persistence of biodiversity, conservation strategies must account for the entire range of cli- mate change impacts. A variety of spatial prioritisation techniques have been developed to incorporate climate change. Here, we provide the first standardised review of these approaches. Using a systematic search, we analysed peer-reviewed spatial prioritisation publications (n = 46) and found that the most common approaches (n = 41, 89%) utilised forecasts of species distributions and aimed

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