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European Golden Plover Photo: Sergey Ryzhkov/Adobe Stock

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Conserving key sites is critical for adapting to a changing climate

Effectively conserving key sites such as IBAs through formal protected areas or community-managed reserves remains an urgent priority to ensure resilience under climate change, although the management of such sites is changing to accommodate shifting ecological communities. New IBAs are being identified, and habitat in them is being conserved, restored, or created to provide suitable conditions for the future.

  • Case Study 1

    Protected areas are helping species to persist within existing ranges and to colonise new areas

    Under climate change, Tanzanian savannah birds are disproportionately colonising climatically suitable zones with a higher proportion of protected habitat. This suggests that current protected area networks are critical in helping species to adapt to climate change. The same findings have been found in the UK, where protection also reduced the rate of extinction at species’ trailing range margins.

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  • Case Study 2

    Identifying new sites increases the resilience of the IBA network

    In sub-Saharan Africa, priority locations have been defined for identifying potential new IBAs to increase the robustness of the network under climate change. These take into account: the degree to which priority species are supported byexisting IBAs; future range shifts; and, the remoteness of locations from existing IBAs.

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  • Case Study 3

    Creating new wetland habitat helps Bitterns adapt in the UK

    Core breeding sites for Bitterns (Botaurus stellaris) in the UK are situated along the Suffolk coast but are at increasing threat from rising sea levels and more frequent storm surges. Losses of even a small proportion of birds in these core sites would substantially impact national trends. Efforts to restore existing reed beds and create new habitat at sites less susceptible to sea-water flooding have led to dramatic population increases, safeguarding the future of this iconic species in the UK.

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  • Case Study 4

    Managing the hydrology of peatland sites could help Golden Plovers adapt to climate change

    Peatlands in the UK uplands are sensitive to summer drought, which reduces cranefly (Tipulidae) abundance. This is a key prey for Eurasian Golden Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria), which are projected to decline by 30% in the South Pennines by 2050-2080. In drained peatlands, the simple act of blocking drainage ditches increases soil moisture and cranefly abundance and likely offers benefits for the plover population and ecosystem services such as carbon storage and water quality.

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