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Nature parks can save species as climate changes
Date:6/1/2009

Retaining a network of wildlife conservation areas is vital in helping to save up to 90 per cent of bird species in Africa affected by climate change, according to scientists.

The research team led by Durham University - including BirdLife International and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) looked at the effects of climate change on 815 bird species of conservation concern in sub-Saharan Africa and on the network of sites designated for them (termed Important Bird Areas).

Published in the journal Ecology Letters, the research - funded by the RSPB - demonstrates that a network of wildlife areas will be a crucial tool to help biodiversity survive future climate change. The findings suggest an urgent need for legislators to protect eco-systems and key wildlife areas in Africa. They show that, over the next 75 years, the biodiversity of some regions will suffer more than others as a result of climate change. They also underline the importance of providing 'green corridors' to help wildlife to move to find new climatically-suitable areas.

The team led by Dr Stephen Willis and Dr David Hole from the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Durham University, used simulation models to see how climate change might affect birds in Important Bird Areas, in the coming decades under a scenario of moderate climate change.

The researchers looked at a network of 863 IBA sites across 42 countries and territories covering around 2,079,306 square kms (1,292,020 square miles) or 7 per cent of the African continent. The sites are identified as being critical for the conservation of birds, in particular, species that are globally threatened, restricted in range or restricted to particular biomes. Together, African IBAs are home to 875 of these species.

Climate change is not the only issue affecting wildlife in Africa. More than 40 per cent of African IBAs lack any form of legal protection under national or international law
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Contact: Carl Stiansen
c.r.stiansen@durham.ac.uk
01-913-346-077
Durham University
Source:Eurekalert

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