Leading experts call for action to align the climate and biodiversity agendas.
In a new study, researchers have highlighted that treating the global climate change and biodiversity crises as two separate issues is in many cases ineffectual and at worst could actually deepen the problem.
The report argues that to drastically improve humanity’s chances of dealing with both existential challenges, scientific research must be backed by major systemic changes in the way climate change solutions are designed and implemented.
The lead author of the study, Dr Nathalie Pettorelli said: ‘The level of interconnectedness between the climate change and biodiversity crises is high and should not be underestimated. This is not just about climate change impacting biodiversity; it is also about the loss of biodiversity deepening the climate crisis.
‘Reduced species abundance, local extinctions, as well as the rapid degradation and/or loss of ecosystems such as mangroves, tropical forests, peatlands and seagrass are having a major impact on our planet’s ability to store carbon while reducing nature and people’s ability to adapt to and/or cope with changing climatic conditions.
‘One cannot continue to independently manage landscapes, freshwater wetlands and seascapes for biodiversity conservation or climate change mitigation/adaptation, hoping that one will automatically benefit the other. We urgently need to significantly improve the scientific and political integration of the biodiversity and climate change agendas so that win-win situations can be quickly and more easily identified.’
The study identifies five priority areas of ecological research needed.
These include developing a widely accepted approach to assess the benefits that projects aimed at mitigating climate change bring to biodiversity; methods of tracking ecosystems that are changing their distribution or facing collapse due to the impacts of climate change; and developing ways to predict the impacts of climate change on the effectiveness of Nature-Based Solutions.
The authors say that all solutions must match the short and long-term scale of both global challenges and that evidence and knowledge must be developed to ensure this. Finally, Nature-Based Solutions such as restoration projects and rewilding must be regularly risk assessed to ensure that they are sustainable, and benefitting the wildlife and communities they intend to serve.
Photo by gryffyn m