5 points on the consequences of climate change on protected areas. | WWF

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5 points on the consequences of climate change on protected areas.

1/ What is climate change and how do we see it?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines the climate change as "changes that are attributed directly or indirectly to human activity". The carbon dioxide resulting from human activity is in addition to the natural weathering of the atmosphere. Indeed, the climate would continue to change even if the composition of the atmosphere remained unchanged.

2/ How does climate change affect protected areas?    

Climate change directly affects species and ecosystems and prevents them from properly providing ecological services (pollination, water supply, soil enrichment, protection against erosion, shelter for wildlife etc.). And indirectly, climate change affects protected areas by exacerbating human pressures.  Because of drought, for example, crop and livestock production is more difficult in some places, leading people to directly exploit forests. However, if protected areas lose their biodiversity, they are unable to play their role: carbon storage to limit the effects of climate change, habitat for species, barrier against natural disasters ...

3/ Vulnerability of Madagascar's protected areas to climate change
Vulnerability to climate change is defined by three factors: exposure to climate change (drought, seasonal shifts, insufficient rainfall, cyclones); sensitivity to climate change to this exposure (displacement of certain species, drying up of water sources, etc.); and adaptive capacity. In a report in 2019, WWF observes that 53% of Madagascar's terrestrial protected areas are highly vulnerable to climate change and 47% are vulnerable to it. 

4/ Adaptation as a solution
To mitigate climate change, WWF advocates solutions that strengthen the capacity of nature and communities surrounding protected areas to adapt to the effects of climate change.  For nature to be able to adapt to climate change, it must be healthy. This implies better management of the protected area, strengthened conservation and more effective and strict monitoring.  All this requires appropriate and sufficient resources, in terms of funding, people and management means.  Strengthening the resilience of people living around protected areas involves improving and diversifying their sources of income through sustainable economic channels. It is also necessary to ensure that these revenues are sustainable so that they are no longer exclusively dependent on resources in protected areas.

5/ What can we do?
"We need to recognize that we are already experiencing the manifestations of climate change," says Tiana Ramahaleo, WWF Conservation Director. Indeed, the year 2019 was the second warmest year on record after 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Pressures on forests, which exacerbate the effects of climate change, mean that today 31% of Madagascar's lemur species are Critically Endangered according to IUCN. "Let's recognize that the best way for our unique biodiversity to survive in the face of climate change is to keep it intact," concludes Tiana Ramahaleo.

Let's join the global action to allow all citizens to sign an online petition, calling on our leaders to commit to concrete actions to reverse the degradation of nature.  Get the latest news on climate change and engage with young climate activists from the Indian Ocean Climate Network (IOCN) or Climates.