How weather impacts conservation success in a changing climate

July 14, 2023

Australia’s unique biodiversity and delicate ecosystems mean we are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As temperatures continue to rise, seasonal conditions change and extreme weather events occur more often, Australia’s conservation management practices must adapt to ensure the protection of species, ecosystems and places.

The Climate-effective management for threatened species and protected places research project aims to support the adaptation of conservation to ensure climate change is considered in management and interventions. Weather conditions are an important variable that must be considered in successful conservation planning – see a summary of these conditions in their latest fact sheet. 

The impact of weather on conservation success

Weather conditions play a significant role in determining the success of conservation efforts. This research shows between 30% and 80% of threat management operations are already affected by weather conditions. These impacts will likely increase under future climate scenarios.

Conditions impacting threat management operations include:

  • Drought and dry conditions can negatively impact various terrestrial management activities including translocations, fire management, disease control and habitat restoration.
  • Bushfires, wind, storms, cyclones and flooding can damage infrastructure, hinder access to sites, interfere with restoration activities and affect the survival and recruitment of translocated individuals.
  • Heavy rainfall and flooding can have both positive and negative impacts on conservation actions, such as grazing management, control of feral herbivores and management of invasive predators.
  • Extreme temperature changes can have context-specific effects on conservation activities. They can influence seedling germination, establishment and survival in restoration activities. Extreme temperatures can also effect disease treatments, the distribution of invasive species and the success of control measures.

Climate-proofing conservation practices for long-term success

Australia’s conservation management is undergoing a shift from considering a static climate to adopting long-term adaptation strategies under climate change. To ensure the success of future conservation efforts, it is crucial to consider extreme events and seasonal conditions when planning interventions.

Understanding the current and projected impacts of weather conditions on our conservation actions is essential for selecting appropriate long-term adaptation strategies. These strategies may include accounting for changing survival rates when selecting translocation methods, implementing fire management practices that consider increased fire risks and adjusting invasive species control methods based on altered distribution patterns.

Learn more about Climate System’s Hub research on the Climate-effective management for threatened species and protected places

Image source: Network for Animals

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