Research ArticleENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

Keeping pace with climate change in global terrestrial protected areas

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Science Advances  17 Jun 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 25, eaay0814
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay0814

Abstract

Protected areas (PAs) are essential to biodiversity conservation, but their static boundaries may undermine their potential for protecting species under climate change. We assessed how the climatic conditions within global terrestrial PAs may change over time. By 2070, protection is expected to decline in cold and warm climates and increase in cool and hot climates over a wide range of precipitation. Most countries are expected to fail to protect >90% of their available climate at current levels. The evenness of climatic representation under protection—not the amount of area protected—positively influenced the retention of climatic conditions under protection. On average, protection retention would increase by ~118% if countries doubled their climatic representativeness under protection or by ~102% if countries collectively reduced emissions in accordance with global targets. Therefore, alongside adoption of mitigation policies, adaptation policies that improve the complementarity of climatic conditions within PAs will help countries safeguard biodiversity.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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