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Cross-border conservation vital to protect birds in a climate-change world
Date:2/9/2011

Countries need to increase co-operation over conservation to protect birds and other wildlife in an era of climate change, according to a new continental-scale study.

Experts have established a new conservation index to help policy-makers to deal with the effects of climate change on birds in Africa, and it could assist governments across the world to protect wildlife areas and help species as climate change forces them to move to new areas.

It is the first categorisation of protected areas to show how conservationists might deal with climate change and the shuffling of the distribution of wildlife species that it will cause. The new tool offers policy-makers essential information to allow them to manage and adapt habitats in coming decades.

An international research team led by Professor Brian Huntley and Dr Stephen Willis, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University, looked at how native African bird species will fare in 803 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) across the continent, if climate change continues as predicted. Birds are a key indicator for conservationists because they respond quickly to change and are relatively easily monitored. IBAs are sites of highest conservation importance for birds, some of which, but by no means all, are existing protected areas.

The team looked at projected future ranges of species of birds and how these coincide with the current network of priority bird sites across Africa. They predict that one third of the IBAs will undergo significant upheaval this century, in terms of the species they contain, due to climate change.

The study shows that there are substantial geographical gaps in the current conservation network and that international cooperation is essential to protect species.

The team produced a series of climate adaptation strategies, which provides a template for action across Africa. It could assist the movement of birds threatened by shrink
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Contact: Carl Stiansen
c.r.stiansen@durham.ac.uk
44-019-133-46077
Durham University
Source:Eurekalert  

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