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Great Blue Turaco Photo: Serguei Koultchitskii/Adobe Stock

Back to Projected Impacts

Human responses to climate change will likely be more important than direct impacts on nature

People will be forced to respond to climate change, such as through changes in where and how crops are grown, energy is produced, and people live. Southern Africa, for example, could lose more than a third of its maize crop by 2030, requiring alternative staples to be grown. Fiji, on the other hand, has allocated entire islands to people emigrating from the Republic of Kiribati, which is losing land to rising sea levels. Such human responses will likely affect birds and other biodiversity more than the direct effects of climate change.

  • Case Study 1

    Considering the impact of climate change on human communities significantly alters vulnerability assessments of IBAs

    The set of IBAs projected to suffer the greatest direct impacts of climate change and highest rates of turnover of bird species do not entirely match the set of IBAs likely to be indirectly impacted by human responses to climate change (those with the greatest projected human vulnerability). Setting priorities for adaptation interventions, therefore, needs to account for likely human responses to climate change.

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    Considering the impact of climate change on human communities significantly alters vulnerability assessments of IBAs

    Photo: Jeff Walker

  • Case Study 2

    Bioenergy expansion could drive biodiversity loss without careful planning

    The direct effect of climate change on the range sizes of European birds is expected to have an influence of greater magnitude by 2050 than the effect of land-use change for biofuel production. Bioenergy, however, is predicted to have a negative impact on a larger proportion of species–96%–compared to climate change alone, which impacts an average of 37% of species across scenarios.

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  • Case Study 3

    Poorly planned responses to coastal flooding have negatively impacted waterbirds in the Netherlands

    Habitat loss caused by the construction of storm surge barriers and dams in the Oosterschelde/Krammer-Volkerak delta region of the Netherlands has driven declines in waterbird populations. Although some birds appear to have benefited, more than twice as many have undergone local population declines. The effects of climate change will lead to the construction of similar infrastructure projects which, if poorly planned, could result in substantial wildlife impacts.

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    Poorly planned responses to coastal flooding have negatively impacted waterbirds in the Netherlands

    Northern Shoveler Photo: Pragr

  • Case Study 4

    Converting natural habitats to oil palm for bioenergy is bad for both birds and climate change

    Widespread use in food production and bioenergy make oil palm is one of the fastest expanding crops in equatorial regions. It is estimated that palm oil plantations take 75-93 years to compensate for the carbon lost through forest conversion, or nearly 700 years if peatland is converted. Avian species richness is vastly reduced in these plantations compared with forest, which highlights the negative biodiversity impacts when biofuels replace natural forests.

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