We offer a conceptual framework for managing forested ecosystems under an assumption that future environments will be different from present but that we cannot be certain about the specifics of change. We encourage flexible approaches that promote reversible and incremental steps, and that favor ongoing learning and capacity to modify direction as situations change. We suggest that no single solution fits all future challenges, especially in the context of changing climates, and that the best strategy is to mix different approaches for different situations. Resources managers will be challenged to integrate adaptation strategies (actions that help ecosystems accommodate changes adaptively) and mitigation strategies (actions that enable ecosystems to reduce anthropogenic influences on global climate) into overall plans. Adaptive strategies include resistance options (forestall impacts and protect highly valued resources), resilience options (improve the capacity of ecosystems to return to desired conditions after disturbance), and response options (facilitate transition of ecosystems from current to new conditions). Mitigation strategies include options to sequester carbon and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. Priority-setting approaches (e.g., triage), appropriate for rapidly changing conditions and for situations where needs are greater than available capacity to respond, will become increasingly important in the future.
We review recent findings from the fossil record, phylogeography and ecology to illustrate that rear edge populations are often disproportionately important for the survival and evolution of biota. Their ecological features, dynamics and conservation requirements differ from those of populations in other parts of the range, and some commonly recommended conservation practices might therefore be of little use or even counterproductive for rear edge populations.
This Article explains that one of the consequences of climate change will be migrations of species from their native habitats to newer habitats, typically to the north, with climates similar to those in which such species evolved. These in-migrating species will in many cases be invasive, forcing the native species to out-migrate or be driven to extinction, thereby causing biodiversity loss. As many of these disrupted ecosystems may be protected by perpetual conservation easements, the Article discusses the negative legal consequences of incursions by non-native species on these existing conservation easements. Accordingly, the Article suggests a number of changes that can be made to future conservation easements to help insure their protection of land in perpetuity and to better protect species and their habitats from the effects of climate change-caused migrations.
Policies to reduce global warming by offering credits for carbon sequestration have neglected the effects of forest management on biodiversity. I review properties of forest ecosystems and management options for enhancing the resistance and resilience of forests to climate change. Although forests, as a class, have proved resilient to past changes in climate, today’s fragmented and degraded forests are more vulnerable. Adaptation of species to climate change can occur through phenotypic plasticity, evolution, or migration to suitable sites, with the latter probably the most common response in the past.
The effects of climate change on biodiversity are increasingly well documented, and many methods have been developed to assess species’ vulnerability to climatic changes, both ongoing and projected in the coming decades. To minimize global biodiversity losses, conservationists need to identify those species that are likely to be most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In this Review, we summarize different currencies used for assessing species’ climate change vulnerability. We describe three main approaches used to derive these currencies (correlative, mechanistic and trait-based), and their associated data requirements, spatial and temporal scales of application and modelling methods. Read More >