, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 1651-1671,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Incorporating climate change into systematic conservation planning

Abstract

The principles of systematic conservation planning are now widely used by governments and non-government organizations alike to develop biodiversity conservation plans for countries, states, regions, and ecoregions. Many of the species and ecosystems these plans were designed to conserve are now being affected by climate change, and there is a critical need to incorporate new and complementary approaches into these plans that will aid species and ecosystems in adjusting to potential climate change impacts. We propose five approaches to climate change adaptation that can be integrated into existing or new biodiversity conservation plans: (1) conserving the geophysical stage, (2) protecting climatic refugia, (3) enhancing regional connectivity, (4) sustaining ecosystem process and function, and (5) capitalizing on opportunities emerging in response to climate change. We discuss both key assumptions behind each approach and the trade-offs involved in using the approach for conservation planning. We also summarize additional data beyond those typically used in systematic conservation plans required to implement these approaches. A major strength of these approaches is that they are largely robust to the uncertainty in how climate impacts may manifest in any given region.