, Volume 111, Issue 3-4, pp 533-557

Priorities in policy and management when existing biodiversity stressors interact with climate-change

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Abstract

There are three key drivers of the biodiversity crisis: (1) the well known existing threats to biodiversity such as habitat loss, invasive pest species and resource exploitation; (2) direct effects of climate-change, such as on coastal and high elevation communities and coral reefs; and (3) the interaction between existing threats and climate-change. The third driver is set to accelerate the biodiversity crisis beyond the impacts of the first and second drivers in isolation. In this review we assess these interactions, and suggest the policy and management responses that are needed to minimise their impacts. Renewed management and policy action that address known threats to biodiversity could substantially diminish the impacts of future climate-change. An appropriate response to climate-change will include a reduction of land clearing, increased habitat restoration using indigenous species, a reduction in the number of exotic species transported between continents or between major regions of endemism, and a reduction in the unsustainable use of natural resources. Achieving these measures requires substantial reform of international, national and regional policy, and the development of new or more effective alliances between scientists, government agencies, non-government organisations and land managers. Furthermore, new management practices and policy are needed that consider shifts in the geographic range of species, and that are responsive to new information acquired from improved research and monitoring programs. The interactions of climate-change with existing threats to biodiversity have the potential to drive many species to extinction, but there is much that can be done now to reduce this risk.