Brazilian Atlantic forest: impact, vulnerability, and adaptation to climate change

Scarano, F.R. and Ceotto, P. | Biodiversity and Conservation | 2015 | Peer Reviewed | Review |


Biodiversity hotspots are among some of the habitats most threatened by climate change, and the Brazilian Atlantic forest is no exception. Only 11.6 % of the natural vegetation cover remains in an intensely fragmented state, which results in high vulnerability of this biome to climate change. Since >60 % of the Brazilian people live within the Atlantic forest domain, societies both in rural and urban areas are also highly vulnerable to climate change. This review examines the vulnerabilities of biodiversity and society in the Atlantic forest to climate change, as well as impacts of land use and climate change, particularly on recent biological evidence of strong synergies and feedback between them. We then discuss the crucial role ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change might play in increasing the resilience of local society to future climate scenarios and provide some ongoing examples of good adaptive practices, especially related to ecosystem restoration and conservation incentive schemes such as payment for ecosystem services. Finally, we list a set of arguments about why we trust that the Atlantic forest can turn from a ‘‘shrinking biodiversity hotspot’’ to a climate adaptation ‘‘hope spot’’ whereby society’s vulnerability to climate change is reduced by protecting and restoring nature and improving human life standards.