Austrian Climate Research Programme (ACRP) – Climate and Energy Fund
Expansion of human settlements and the need for agricultural land to support a growing global population have reduced natural habitat for many species. Natural landscapes have been transformed and almost all natural habitat types have been subject to loss, degradation or fragmentation. A broad range of strategies have been devised to counterbalance the impeding threat for species and habitats. Protected areas have been established to conserve habitat area for species. Measures have been devised and implemented to safeguard species and habitat types. Most of these initiatives have been conceived without considering the simultaneous and possibly interacting effects of climate change. Climate change might render these measures inefficient, incomplete or, in some cases, unnecessary. On the other hand, a slight modification of some conservation interventions might make them useful even in the face of global warming.
The aim of this project is to rethink conservation strategies and paradigms in the presence of climate change and to suggest modifications to existing strategies to render them functional in future environmental conditions. We will outline requirements and conditions for such modifications. We will evaluate to what extent the Austrian network of protected areas will still be able to protect its target species in the face of climate change and propose adaptations. We will evaluate how climate change will affect currently applied conservation and restoration measures for species and habitats. Finally, together with stakeholders and conservation managers, we will revise current Austrian biodiversity conservation strategies and paradigms in a way that addresses the effects of climate change.