Environmental Management

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 732–743 | Cite as

Managing Protected Areas Under Climate Change: Challenges and Priorities

  • Sven RannowEmail author
  • Nicholas A. Macgregor
  • Juliane Albrecht
  • Humphrey Q. P. Crick
  • Michael Förster
  • Stefan Heiland
  • Georg Janauer
  • Mike D. Morecroft
  • Marco Neubert
  • Anca Sarbu
  • Jadwiga Sienkiewicz


The implementation of adaptation actions in local conservation management is a new and complex task with multiple facets, influenced by factors differing from site to site. A transdisciplinary perspective is therefore required to identify and implement effective solutions. To address this, the International Conference on Managing Protected Areas under Climate Change brought together international scientists, conservation managers, and decision-makers to discuss current experiences with local adaptation of conservation management. This paper summarizes the main issues for implementing adaptation that emerged from the conference. These include a series of conclusions and recommendations on monitoring, sensitivity assessment, current and future management practices, and legal and policy aspects. A range of spatial and temporal scales must be considered in the implementation of climate-adapted management. The adaptation process must be area-specific and consider the ecosystem and the social and economic conditions within and beyond protected area boundaries. However, a strategic overview is also needed: management at each site should be informed by conservation priorities and likely impacts of climate change at regional or even wider scales. Acting across these levels will be a long and continuous process, requiring coordination with actors outside the “traditional” conservation sector. To achieve this, a range of research, communication, and policy/legal actions is required. We identify a series of important actions that need to be taken at different scales to enable managers of protected sites to adapt successfully to a changing climate.


Conservation management Climate adaptation Monitoring Assessing sensitivity Management practices Legal and policy advice 



IMPACT was organized as part of the project HABIT-CHANGE—Adaptive Management of Climate-induced Changes of Habitat Diversity in Protected Areas ( This project was implemented within the INTERREG IV B CENTRAL EUROPE Program (reference number 2CE168P3) co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Additional funding was provided by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) under the Grant number NE 1843/1-1. Our sincerest thanks go to everyone who made IMPACT such a successful event: the conference presenters who generously shared their time and expertise, the session chairs who managed their part of the event, and all the participants who contributed to lively and productive discussions. Last but by no means least, we thank all the partners of HABIT-CHANGE who cannot be named individually, as the project brought together more than 50 people from 17 institutions in eight countries across central Europe.


  1. Araújo MB, Alagador D, Cabeza M, Nogués-Bravo D, Thuiller W (2011) Climate change threatens European conservation areas. Ecol Lett 14(5):484–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arthur AD, Catling PC, Reid A (2012) Relative influence of habitat structure, species interactions and rainfall on the post-fire population dynamics of ground-dwelling vertebrates. Austral Ecol 37:958–970CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ausden M (2013) Climate change adaptation: putting principles into practice. Environ Manag. doi: 10.1007/s00267-013-0217-3 Google Scholar
  4. Baron J, Gunderson L, Allen CD, Fleishman E, McKenzie D, Meyerson LA, Oropeza J, Stephenson N (2009) Options for national parks and reserves for adapting to climate change. Environ Manag 44(6):1033–1042. doi: 10.1007/s00267-009-9296-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bellard C, Bertelsmeier C, Leadley P, Thuiller W, Courchamp F (2012) Impacts of climate change on the future of biodiversity. Ecol Lett 15:365–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berman R, Quinn C, Paavola J (2012) The role of institutions in the transformation of coping capacity to sustainable adaptive capacity. Environ Dev 2:86–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bock M, Rossner G, Wissen M, Remm K, Langanke T, Lang S, Klug H, Blaschke T, Vrscaj B (2005) Spatial indicators for nature conservation from European to local scale. Ecol Indic 5(4):322–338. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2005.03.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Borhidi A (1995) Social behaviour types, their naturalness and relative ecological indicator values of the higher plants of the Hungarian Flora. Acta Bot Hung 39(1–2):97–181Google Scholar
  9. Campbell MO (2009) The impact of habitat characteristics on bird presence and the implications for wildlife management in the environs of Ottawa, Canada. Urban For Urban Green 8:87–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chiarucci A, Bacaro G, Vannini A, Rocchini D (2008) Quantifying species richness at multiple spatial scales in a Natura 2000 network. Community Ecol 9(2):185–192. doi: 10.1556/ComEc.9.2008.2.7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cliquet A (2014) International and European law on protected areas and climate change: need for adaptation or implementation? Environ Manag. doi: 10.1007/s00267-013-0228-0 Google Scholar
  12. Cliquet A, Backes C, Harris J, Howsam P (2009) Adaptation to climate change—legal challenges for protected areas. Utrecht Law Rev 5(1):158–175Google Scholar
  13. Conroy M, Runge MC, Nichols JD, Stodola KW, Cooper J (2011) Conservation in the face of climate change: the roles of alternative models, monitoring, and adaptation in confronting and reducing uncertainty. Biol Conserv 144:1204–1213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Council of Europe (1979) Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Habitats, Bern, 19.IX.1979. Accessed on 22 Aug 2013
  15. Council of the European Communities (1992) Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. Off J Eur Communities of 22.07.1992, L 206:7Google Scholar
  16. Cross MS, Zavaleta ES, Bachelet D, Brooks ML, Enquist CAF, Fleishman E, Graumlich LJ, Groves CR, Hannah L, Hansen L, Hayward G, Koopman M, Lawler JJ, Malcom J, Nordgren J, Petersen B, Rowland EL, Scott D, Shafer SL, Shaw MR, Tabor GM (2012) The Adaptation for Conservation Targets (ACT) Framework: a tool for incorporating climate change into natural resource management. Environ Manag 50:341–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dessai S, Wilby R (2011) How can developing country decision makers incorporate uncertainty about climate risks into existing planning and policymaking processes? World Resources Report, Washington, DC. Accessed 11 Jan 2012
  18. Dodd A, Hardiman A, Jennings K, Williams G (2010) Protected areas and climate change—reflections from a practitioner’s perspective. Utrecht Law Rev 6:141–148Google Scholar
  19. Driscoll DA, Felton A, Gibbons P, Felton AM, Munro NT, Lindenmayer DB (2012) Priorities in policy and management when existing biodiversity stressors interact with climate-change. Clim Change 111:533–557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ellenberg H (1992) Zeigerwerte von Pflanzen in Mitteleuropa. 2nd edn. Scripta Geobotanica 18. Goltze, GöttingenGoogle Scholar
  21. European Commission (2009) White Paper Adapting to Climate Change: Towards a European framework for a action. COM(2009) 147 final. Brussels, 1.4.2009Google Scholar
  22. European Commission (2011) Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. COM(2011) 244 final. Brussels, 3.5.2011Google Scholar
  23. European Parliament and Council (2009) Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds. Off J Eur Union of 26.1.2010, L 20:7 (codified version of Directive 79/409/EEC as amended)Google Scholar
  24. European Union (2013) Guidelines on climate change and Natura 2000. Dealing with the impact of climate change on the management of the Natura 2000 Network. Technical Report: 2013-068. Accessed 6 March 2014
  25. Fischlin A, Midgley GF, Price JT, Leemans R, Gopal B, Turley C, Rounsevell MDA, Dube OP, Tarazona J, Velichko AA (2007) Ecosystems, their properties, goods, and services. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 211–272Google Scholar
  26. Förster M, Frick A, Walentowski H, Kleinschmit B (2008) Approaches to utilising Quickbird-Data for the Monitoring of NATURA 2000 habitats. Community Ecol 9(2):155–168. doi: 10.1556/ComCe.9.2008.2.4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Game ET, Lipsett-Moore G, Saxon E, Peterson N, Sheppard S (2011) Incorporating climate change adaptation into national conservation assessments. Glob Change Biol 17:3150–3160. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02457.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gitay H, Finlayson CM, Davidson NC (2011) A Framework for assessing the vulnerability of wetlands to climate change. Ramsar Technical Report number 5/CBD, Technical Series number 57. Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Gland and Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, MontrealGoogle Scholar
  29. Glick P, Stein BA, Edelson NA (eds) (2011) Scanning the conservation horizon: a guide to climate change vulnerability assessment. National Wildlife Federation, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  30. Greenwood J, Baillie S, Crick H (1994) Long-term studies and monitoring of bird populations. In: Leigh RA, Johnson AE (eds) Long-term experiments in agricultural and ecological sciences. CABI, Oxford, pp 343–364Google Scholar
  31. Groves CR, Game ET, Anderson MG, Cross M, Enquist C, Ferdana Z, Girvetz EH, Gondor A, Hall KR, Higgins J, Marshall R, Popper K, Schill S, Shafer SL (2012) Incorporating climate change into systematic conservation planning. Biodivers Conserv 21:1651–1671. doi: 10.1007/s10531-012-0269-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hagerman S, Dowlatabadi H, Satterfield T, McDaniels T (2010) Expert views on biodiversity conservation in an era of climate change. Glob Environ Change 20:192–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hannah L (2003) Impact assessments regional biodiversity impact assessments for climate change: guide for protected area managers. In: Hansen L, Biringer JL, Hoffman J (eds) Buying time: a user’s manual for building resistance and resilience to climate change in natural systems. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Berlin, pp 235–244Google Scholar
  34. Hannah L, Midgley G, Andelman S, Araújo M, Hughes G, Martinez-Meyer E, Pearson R, Williams P (2007) Protected area needs in a changing climate. Front Ecol Environ 5:131–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hansen L, Hoffmann J (2011) Climate savvy—adapting conservation and resource management to a changing world. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  36. Harley M, Chambers T, Hodgson N, van Minnen J, Pooley M (2010) A methodology for assessing the vulnerability to climate change of habitats in the Natura 2000 network, ETC/ACC Technical Paper 2010/14, European Topic Centre on Air and Climate ChangeGoogle Scholar
  37. Hellawell JM (1991) Development of a rationale for monitoring. In: Goldsmith B (ed) Monitoring for conservation and ecology. Chapman and Hall, London, pp 1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Heller NE, Zavaleta S (2009) Biodiversity management in the face of climate change: a review of 22 years of recommendations. Biol Conserv 142:14–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hobbs RJ, Cole DN, Yung L, Zavaleta ES, Aplet GH, Chapin FS III, Landres PB, Parsons DJ, Stephenson NL, White PS, Graber DM, Higgs ES, Millar CI, Randall JM, Tonnessen KA, Woodley S (2010) Guiding concepts for park and wilderness stewardship in an era of global environmental change. Front Ecol Environ 8:483–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hopkins JJ, Allison HM, Walmsley CA, Gaywood M, Thurgate G (2007) Conserving biodiversity in a changing climate: guidance on building capacity to adapt. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  41. Hunter M, Dinerstein E, Hoekstra J, Lindenmayer D (2010) A call to action for conserving biological diversity in the face of climate change. Conserv Biol 24:1169–1171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ivajnsic D, Kaligaric M (2014) How to preserve coastal wetlands threatened by climate change-driven rises in sea level? Environ Manag. doi: 10.1007/s00267-014-0244-8 Google Scholar
  43. Kent M (2011) Vegetation description and data analysis: a practical approach, 2nd edn. Wiley–Blackwell, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  44. Kuussaari M, Bommarco R, Heikkinen RK, Helm A, Krauss J, Lindborg R, Ockinger E, Partel M, Pino J, Roda F, Stefanescu C, Teder T, Zobel M, Steffan-Dewenter I (2009) Extinction debt: a challenge for biodiversity conservation. Trends Ecol Evol 24(10):564–571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lawler J (2009) Climate change adaptation strategies for resource management and conservation planning. Ann NY Acad Sci 1162:79–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lemieux CJ, Thompson JL, Dawson J, Schuster RM (2013) Natural resource manager perceptions of agency performance on climate change. J Environ Manag 114:178–189. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.09.014 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lovejoy TE, Hanna L (2005) Climate change and Biodiversity. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  48. Lupp G, Heuchele L, Renner C, Pauli P, Siegrist D, Konold W (2012) Outdoor recreation destinations as model regions for adaption to climate change and protecting biodiversity. In: Fredman P et al (eds) The 6th international conference on monitoring and management of visitors in recreational and protected areas. Outdoor recreation in change—current knowledge and future challenges, Stockholm, Sweden, 21–24 Aug 2012. Proceedings (Forskningsprogrammet Friluftsliv i förändring Rapport; 19), pp 212–213Google Scholar
  49. Lupp G, Heuchele L, Konold W, Renner C, Pauli P, Siegrist D (2013) Biologische Vielfalt und Klimawandel als Herausforderung für Tourismusdestinationen - Wahrnehmung und Handlungsbedarf der Akteure in naturräumlich besonders wertvollen Beispielregionen Deutschlands. Nat Landsch 45(3):69–75Google Scholar
  50. Macgregor NA, van Dijk N (2014) Adaptation in practice: how managers of nature conservation areas in eastern England are responding to climate change. Environ Manag. doi: 10.1007/s00267-014-0254-6 Google Scholar
  51. Magurran AE, Baillie SR, Buckland ST, Dick JM, Elston DA, Scott EM, Smith RI, Somerfield PJ, Watt AD (2010) Long-term datasets in biodiversity research and monitoring: assessing change in ecological communities through time. Trends Ecol Evol 25(10):574–582. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2010.06.016 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mawdsley JR, O’Malley R, Ojima DS (2009) A Review of climate-change adaptation strategies for wildlife management and biodiversity conservation. Conserv Biol 23:1080–1089CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Möckel S, Köck W (2009) Naturschutzrecht im Zeichen des Klimawandels. Vorläufige Bewertung und weiterer Forschungsbedarf. Nat Recht 31:318–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Morecroft MD, Bealey CE, Beaumont DA, Benham S, Brooks DR, Burt TP, Critchley CNR, Dick J, Littlewood NA, Monteith DT, Scott WA, Smith RI, Walmsely C, Watson H (2009) The UK Environmental Change Network: emerging trends in the composition of plant and animal communities and the physical environment. Biol Conserv 142:2814–2832. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2009.07.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Morecroft MD, Crick HQP, Duffield SD, Macgregor NA (2012) Resilience to climate change: translating principles into practice. J Appl Ecol 49:547–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nagendra H, Lucas R, Honrado JP, Jongman RHG, Tarantino C, Adamo M, Mairota P (2012) Remote sensing for conservation monitoring: assessing protected areas, habitat extent, habitat condition, species diversity, and threats. Ecol Indic. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2012.09.014 Google Scholar
  57. Naumann S, Anzaldua G, Berry P, Burch S, McDavis K, Frelih-Larsen A, Gerdes H, Sanders M (2011) Assessment of the potential of ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation in Europe. Final report to the European Commission, DG Environment, Contract number 070307/2010/580412/SER/B2. Ecologic Institute and Environmental Change Institute, University Centre for the Environment, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  58. Newson SE, Mendes S, Crick HQ, Dulvey NK, Houghton JD, Hays GC, Hutson AH, Macleod CD, Pierce GJ, Robinsons RA (2009) Indicators of the impact of climate change on migratory species. Endanger Species Res 7:101–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nichols JD, Williams BK (2006) Monitoring for conservation. Trends Ecol Evol 21(12):668–673. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2006.08.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Normand S, Svenning J, Skov F (2007) National and European perspectives on climate change sensitivity of the habitats directive characteristics plant species. J Nat Conserv 15(1):41–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rannow S (2013) Climate-adapted conservation: how to identify robust strategies for the management of reindeer in Hardangervidda National Park (Norway). Reg Environ Change 13(4):813–823. doi: 10.1007/s10113-013-0449-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Rannow S, Neubert M (eds) (2014) Managing protected areas in central and eastern Europe under climate change. In: Advances in global change research, vol 58. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 115–134Google Scholar
  63. Rocchini D, Foody GM, Nagendra H, Ricotta C, Anand M, He KS, Amici V, Kleinschmit B, Forster M, Schmidtlein S, Feilhauer H, Ghisla A, Metz M, Neteler M (2013) Uncertainty in ecosystem mapping by remote sensing. Comput Geosci 50:128–135. doi: 10.1016/j.cageo.2012.05.022 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2009) Connecting biodiversity and climate change mitigation and adaptation. CBD Technical Series 41. MontrealGoogle Scholar
  65. Schumacher J, Krüsemann E, Niederstadt F, Rebsch S, Schumacher A, Wattendorf P, Konold W, Becker R (2013) Naturschutz und Klimawandel im Recht – juristische Konzepte für naturschutzfachliche Anpassungsstrategien. Final Report to the F + E Research Project on “Nature Conservation and Climate Change in the Law – Legal Concepts for Nature Conservation Adaptation Strategies” of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz—BfN), FKZ: 3508 81 2400Google Scholar
  66. Summers DM, Bryan BA, Crossman ND, Meyer WS (2012) Species vulnerability to climate change: impacts on spatial conservation priorities and species representation. Glob Change Biol 18:2335–2348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Thomas CD, Gillingham PK, Bradbury RB, Roy DB, Anderson BJ, Baxter JM, Bourn NAD, Crick HQP, Findon RA, Fox R, Hodgson JA, Holt AR, Morecroft MD, O’Hanlon NJ, Oliver TH, Pearce-Higgins JW, Procter DA, Thomas JA, Walker KJ, Walmsley CA, Wilson RJ, Hill JK (2012) Protected areas facilitate species’ range expansions. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109:14063–14068CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Trouwborst A (2011) Conserving European Biodiversity in a Changing Climate: the Bern Convention, the EU Birds and Habitats Directives and the Adaptation of Nature to Climate Change. Rev Eur Community Int Environ Law 20(1):62–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. UNESCO (2011, 28 June) Dresden Declaration on Biosphere Reserves and Climate Change. Accessed 17 Jan 2013
  70. United Nations (2009) Guidance on water and adaptation to climate change. United Nations, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  71. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2009) A framework for categorizing the relative vulnerability of threatened and endangered species to climate change. EPA/600/R-09/011. National Center for Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC. Accessed 22 April 2013
  72. USGS (1994) USGS/NPS vegetation mapping program—field methods for vegetation mapping. USGS Report.Google Scholar
  73. Verschuuren J (2010) Climate change: rethinking Restoration in the European Union’s Birds and Habitats Directives. Ecol Restor 28(4):431–439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wagner-Lücker I, Förster M, Janauer G (2014) Assessment of climate-induces impacts on habitats. In: Rannow S, Neubert M (eds) Managing protected areas in central and eastern Europe under climate change. Advances in global change research, vol 58. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 115–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Walters CJ, Holling CS (1990) Large scale management experiments and learning by doing. Ecology 71:2060–2068CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Walther GR, Berger S, Sykes MT (2005) An ecological ‘footprint’ of climate change. Proc R Soc Lond B 272(1571):1427–1432. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2005.3119 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Welch D (2005) What should protected areas managers do in the face of climate change? George Wright Forum 22(1):75–93Google Scholar
  78. Williams SE, Shoo LP, Isaac JL, Hoffmann AA, Langham G (2008) Towards an integrated framework for assessing the vulnerability of species to climate change. PLoS Biol 6(12):e325. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060325 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Wilson L, Astbury S, Bhogal A, McCall R, Walmsley CA (2013) Climate vulnerability assessment of designated sites in Wales. CCW Science Report number 1017. Countryside Council for Wales, BangorGoogle Scholar
  80. Zellweger F, Morsdorf F, Purves RS, Braunisch V, Bollmann K (2014) Improved methods for measuring forest landscape structure: LiDAR complements field-based habitat assessment. Biodivers Conserv 23:289–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sven Rannow
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicholas A. Macgregor
    • 2
  • Juliane Albrecht
    • 3
  • Humphrey Q. P. Crick
    • 4
  • Michael Förster
    • 5
  • Stefan Heiland
    • 6
  • Georg Janauer
    • 7
  • Mike D. Morecroft
    • 8
  • Marco Neubert
    • 3
  • Anca Sarbu
    • 9
  • Jadwiga Sienkiewicz
    • 10
  1. 1.Biosphere Reserve River Landscape Elbe-BrandenburgRühstädtGermany
  2. 2.Natural EnglandLondonUK
  3. 3.Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional DevelopmentDresdenGermany
  4. 4.Natural EnglandCambridgeUK
  5. 5.Geoinformation in Environmental Planning LabTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  6. 6.Department of Landscape Planning and DevelopmentTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  7. 7.Department of LimnologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  8. 8.Natural EnglandWorcesterUK
  9. 9.Department of Botany-MicrobiologyUniversity of BucharestBucharestRomania
  10. 10.Environmental Protection InstituteWarsawPoland

Personalised recommendations