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Conservation in the Face of Climate Change: Recent Developments

Lawler, J.L., J.E.M. Watson and E.T. Game (2015). Conservation in the Face of Climate Change: Recent Developments. F1000 Research, 4, 1 – 9.

An increased understanding of the current and potential future impacts of climate change has significantly influenced conservation in practice in recent years. Climate change has necessitated a shift toward longer planning time horizons, moving baselines, and evolving conservation goals and targets. This shift has resulted in new perspectives on, and changes in, the basic approaches practitioners use to conserve biodiversity. Restoration, spatial planning and reserve selection, connectivity modelling, extinction risk assessment, and species translocations have all been reimagined in the face of climate change. Restoration is being conducted with a new acceptance of uncertainty and an understanding that goals will need to shift through time. New conservation targets, such as geophysical settings and climatic refugia, are being incorporated into conservation plans. Risk assessments have begun to consider the potentially synergistic impacts of climate change and other threats. Assisted colonization has gained acceptance in recent years as a viable and necessary conservation tool. This evolution has paralleled a larger trend in conservation—a shift toward conservation actions that benefit both people and nature. As we look forward, it is clear that more change is on the horizon. To protect biodiversity and essential ecosystem services, conservation will need to anticipate the human response to climate change and to focus not only on resistance and resilience but on transitions to new states and new ecosystems.

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