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Future landscapes in south-eastern australia: The role of protected areas and biolinks in adaptation to climate change

journal contribution
posted on 2008-01-01, 00:00 authored by I Mansergh, D Cheal, James FitzsimonsJames Fitzsimons
The extent and rapidity of global climate change is the major novel threatening process to biodiversity in the 21st century. Globally, numerous studies suggest movement of biota to higher latitudes and altitudes with increasing empirical evidence emerging. As biota responds to the direct and consequent effects of climate change the potential to profoundly affect natural systems (including the reserve system) of south-eastern Australia is becoming evident. Climate change is projected to accelerate major environmental drivers such as drought, fire and flood regimes. Is the reserve system sufficient for biodiversity conservation under a changing climate? Australia is topographically flat, biologically mega-diverse with high species endemism, and has the driest and most variable climate of any inhabited continent. Whilst the north-south orientation and altitude gradient of eastern Australia's forests and woodlands provides some resilience to projected climatic change, this has been eroded since European settlement, particularly in the cool-moist Bassian zone of the south-east. Following settlement, massive land-use change for agriculture and forestry caused widespread loss and fragmentation of habitats; becoming geriatric in agricultural landscapes and artificially young in forests. The reserve system persists as an archipelago of ecological islands surrounded by land uses of varying compatibility with conservation and vulnerable to global warming. The capacity for biota to adapt is limited by habitat availability. The extinction risk is exacerbated. Re-examination of earlier analysis of ecological connectivity through biolink zones confirms biolinks as an appropriate risk management response within a broader suite of measures. Areas not currently in the reserve system may be critical to the value and ecological function of biological assets of the reserve system as these assets change. Ecological need and the rise of ecosystem services, combined with changing socio-economic drivers of land-use and social values that supported the expansion of the reserve system, all suggest biolink zones represent a new, necessary and viable multi-functional landscape. This paper explores some of the key ecological elements for restoration within biolink zones (and landscapes at large) particularly through currently agricultural landscapes. © 2008 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.









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CN.1 Other journal article

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