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Climate change exposure and vulnerability of the global protected area estate from an international perspective

Citation

Hoffmann, Samuel; Beierkuhnlein, Carl (2021), Climate change exposure and vulnerability of the global protected area estate from an international perspective, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.f4qrfj6tf

Abstract

Aim: Protected areas are essential to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem benefits to society under increasing human pressures of the Anthropocene. Anthropogenic climate change, however, threatens the enduring effectiveness of protected areas in conserving biodiversity and providing ecosystem services, because it modifies and redistributes biodiversity with unknown consequences for ecosystem functioning within protected areas. Here we assess (1) the climate change exposure of the global terrestrial protected area estate and (2) the climate change vulnerability of national protected area estates.

Location: Terrestrial protected areas worldwide.

Methods: We calculated local climate change exposure as predicted climate anomalies between the present and 2070 using ten global climate models, two emission scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5) and the finest spatial resolution available for global climate projections (approx. 1 km). We estimated the climate change vulnerability of national protected area estates by analysing countrywide relationships between protected areas’ climate anomalies and other protected area characteristics, i.e. area, elevation, terrain ruggedness, human footprint and irreplaceability for globally threatened species.

Results: We found predicted climate anomalies highest in protected areas of (sub-)tropical countries. The correlations between climate anomalies and protected area characteristics strongly differ between countries. Globally, protected areas showing large climate anomalies tend to be at high elevation and highly irreplaceable for threatened species, increasing climate change vulnerability. These protected areas are relatively large in area, of high topographic heterogeneity and less pressured by humans, decreasing climate change vulnerability.

Main conclusion: This study reveals potential hotspots of climate change impact inside the terrestrial protected area estate. It thus supports and guides climate-smart conservation policy and management, particularly national to local authorities, to ensure the future effectiveness of protected areas in preserving biodiversity and ecosystem benefits under climate change.

Methods

This dataset is a product of the corresponding paper. Please see the Methods section for further information.

Funding

EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement No. 641762, Award: 641762

EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement No. 641762, Award: 641762