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Managing ecosystems in a changing climate
Date:1/26/2010

Global warming may impair the ability of ecosystems to perform vital servicessuch as providing food, clean water and carbon sequestrationsays the nation's largest organization of ecological scientists. In a statement released today, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) outlines strategies that focus on restoring and maintaining natural ecosystem functions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

"Decision-makers cannot overlook the critical services ecosystems provide," says ESA President Mary Power. "If we are going to reduce the possibility of irreversible damage to the environment under climate change, we need to take swift but measured action to protect and manage our ecosystems."

ESA recommends four approaches to limiting adverse effects of climate change through ecosystem management:

Prioritize low-alteration strategies. Many ecosystems sequester a sizable amount of carbonsimply allowing them to function naturally can significantly help mitigation efforts. Deforestation, for example, has a two-fold impact: removing agents of carbon sequestrationtrees in this instancewhile simultaneously releasing stored carbon. Therefore, preserving forests is a straightforward way to both reduce and offset emissions.

Critically evaluate management-intensive strategies. Management strategies that seek to increase carbon sequestration above natural levels should undergo thorough life-cycle analysis and evaluation prior to implementation. For example, increasing carbon uptake on agricultural landsone approach to enhancing the sequestration potential of ecosystemstypically requires more fertilizer than standard processes; the tradeoff, therefore, is higher emissions and pollution associated with fertilizer production.

Acknowledge the ecological implications of geoengineering. Understand the potential risks associated with engineering the environment, called geoengineering, and the unintended negative impacts that could emerge
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Contact: Katie Kline
katie@esa.org
202-833-8775
Ecological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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