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Mitigation/Adaptation of Protected Areas to Climate Change

Biodiversity and its ecosystems help us to mitigate on the climate change and limit its effects. They are essential for facing the global warming . Working with nature, not against it, brings us many benefits and understanding about climate preservation.

Climate change is happening now and nature is experiencing its impact first. This is why protected areas must mitigate the effect of climate change, and adapt before their fragile ecosystems are harmed by irreversible damage.

First step in mitigation of protected areas should be prevention of further destruction. Protected areas, their info centers and their actions should be an example of climate change mitigation and adaption activities.

Reaction of protected areas to climate change must be fast and cohesive, as must react on many different areas:

  • Awareness rising: Information centers of protected areas must offer information to the visitors about what is climate change and what is its effect on explicit protected area. Presentation of this problem must be interactive and shown through the well known examples. Protected areas are free to choose one specific habitat (beech forest, mountain spring, meadow, etc.) and/or specific specie of fauna or flora, which is well publicly known, and present the effect of climate change on those cases.
  • Local residents: Awareness rising of local residents is even more important, as they are the one who live in the protected area and therefore also represent it. They must be actively involved in the process of adaptation to climate change.
  • International cooperation: As in many cases protected areas (especially national parks) are the ones who direct national laws for nature protection, they must have enough background to be able to do this. International cooperation provides intellectual support to protected areas so they are able to actively assist in the creation of National Adaptation Plans, which are required by international protocols. International cooperation also enables protected areas to exchange “cases of good practice” among themselves and solve common problems together.
  • Ecological connectivity and buffer zones: due to climate change and changes of habitats, migration of species will become more frequent and necessary for a good genetic exchange among them. This requires long term planning of buffer zones and corridors, which will offer land populations to change their habitat suitably. Again, cooperation with local residents and regional authorities, as well as dynamic approach of the nature protection on this issue is of high importance.

  • Ecological construction: In order that protected areas and their actions become a good example of environmental sustainability, they must actively approach towards the projects which involve ecological construction. Further rise of tourists will demand new infrastructures, which gives an opportunity to developing destinations to set up higher standards for new facilities which achieves higher energy efficient standards.
  • Mobility: Impact of personal cars is not focused only on CO2 emissions. In protected areas, there are also other negative impacts that are important. Noise pollution affects habitats and increase of vehicles demands expansion of parking areas. These are the reasons why there is a need of an integrated approach towards sustainable mobility of visitors, regarding their arrival, departure and mobility within the area.
  • Sustainable tourism: Studies indicate that protected areas should face with intensified touristic pressure. This brings new challenges for fragile ecosystems and means, that mountain protected areas should be prepared for the increase of visitors. Mitigation of climate change on tourism, can be realized through technological innovation and market mechanism, but significant reduction in greenhouse gases emissions can only be achieved through behavioral change. On time adaptation reduces the cost of climate change impacts and thus reduces the needs for mitigation. Adaptation to climate change needs a creation of new type of tourism, which would have less impact on the environment. This is as especially important for protected areas, which are not tourism orientated, but are (statistically proven) tourism magnets . This is why they should approach the problem constructively, in order to use it in their benefit and not only see it as a threat.

Given uncertainty about the exact nature of ecosystem impacts of land responses to climate change, effective management will require a responsible and flexible approach. The success of various conservation approaches should be continually reassessed, and adjusted as new information becomes available.