Thursday, April 03, 2008

Policies for conserving biodiversity when we are ignorant of likely effects of climate change

The website of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts has interesting postings on the implications of climate change for the National Reserve System (NRS) for conserving biodiversity. Jennifer Marohasy’s blog has a scornful critique of the Rudd Government’s proposal*to expand the reserve system apparently seeing solutions lying in private sector activity. It seems to be a strange comment given that almost none of the externalities associated with climate change and biodiversity have been priced – private sector incentives are unlikely to work here. In addition private reserves are in the NRS.

The CSIRO report on adaptations to climate change by expanding the reserve system is a thoughtful document that deserves a more intensive read than I can give it at the moment.

It makes points that I have made in my own work – that making nature reserves more connected will facilitate the movement of species but can have undesirable effects including spreading fire and unwanted pest species. But it takes this point to its logical conclusion – we should also protect isolated reserves for the same reason. This is a strong argument in my view and supports the national action plan's emphasis on strengthening existing reserves as well as promoting greater connectedness.

The report also argues that the key objectives of conservation will shift toward species loss minimisation by both facilitating natural relocations and strengthening existing conservation efforts.

Much of the report is taken up with thinking about how we should manage our ignorance and deal with the unexpected. It shows a good deal of intelligence in doing this and in warning of the dangers of relying on narrow modelling and conceptualisations.

* Peter Garrett has stated the government will give $180 million to expand the system.

1 comment:

conrad said...

I agree with you about the article on the other blog, or perhaps I'm just used to reading things with an argument or analysis.

I can also think of an example of private land being safter than the public equivalent -- the Blue Mountains. I imagine the small parts people live in (some of which was once public land initially) are in fact probably safer than in public ownership, since people don't want feral species, their houses to burn down etc. People also have a vested interest in stopping erosion etc.