, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 139-153
Date: 21 May 2014

Adapting conservation to climate change: a case study on feasibility and implementation in Brandenburg, Germany

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Conservation actions need to account for global climate change and adapt to it. The body of the literature on adaptation options is growing rapidly, but their feasibility and current state of implementation are rarely assessed. We discussed the practicability of adaptation options with conservation managers analysing three fields of action: reducing the vulnerability of conservation management, reducing the vulnerability of conservation targets (i.e. biodiversity) and climate change mitigation. For all options, feasibility, current state of implementation and existing obstacles to implementation were analysed, using the Federal State of Brandenburg, Germany, as a case study. Practitioners considered a large number of options useful, most of which have already been implemented at least in part. Those options considered broadly implemented resemble mainly conventional measures of conservation without direct relation to climate change. Managers are facing several obstacles for adapting to climate change, including political reluctance to change, financial and staff shortages in conservation administrations and conflictive EU funding schemes in agriculture. A certain reluctance to act, due to the high degree of uncertainty with regard to climate change scenarios and impacts, is widespread. A lack of knowledge of appropriate methods such as adaptive management often inhibits the implementation of adaptation options in the field of planning and management. Based on the findings for Brandenburg, we generally conclude that it is necessary to focus in particular on options that help to reduce vulnerability of conservation management itself, i.e. those that enhance management effectiveness. For instance, adaptive and proactive risk management can be applied as a no-regrets option, independently from specific climate change scenarios or impacts, strengthening action under uncertainty.