Integrating human responses to climate change into conservation vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning

Maxwell, S.L. et al. | Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences | 2015 | Peer Reviewed | Perspective |


The impact of climate change on biodiversity is now evident, with the direct impacts of changing temperature and rainfall patterns and increases in the magnitude and frequency of extreme events on species distribution, populations, and overall ecosystem function being increasingly publicized. Changes in the climate system are also affecting human communities, and a range of human responses across terrestrial and marine realms have been witnessed, including altered agricultural activities, shifting fishing efforts, and human migration. Failing to account for the human responses to climate change is likely to compromise climate-smart conservation efforts. Here, we use a well-established conservation planning framework to show how integrating human responses to climate change into both species- and site-based vulnerability assessments and adaptation plans is possible. By explicitly taking into account human responses, conservation practitioners will improve their evaluation of species and ecosystem vulnerability, and will be better able to deliver win-wins for human- and biodiversity-focused climate adaptation.