African Journal of Geography and Regional Planning

African Journal of Geography and Regional Planning Vol. 1 (5), pp. 174-182, May, 2014. © International Scholars Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Targeting conservation investment in the face of climate change

Cory Ventus1 and James A. Freeman2

1Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Research Laboratory at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Carleton K1S 5B6

2Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada , Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. EC K1A 0H3. 

Accepted 24 December, 2014


To optimize the use of scarce resources, it is imperative to target conservation investment wisely. We discuss the impact assessment of potential climate-driven shifts in species distributions on the future conservation utility of a present-day reserve design. We provide examples using breeding bird survey data for 150 species in the eastern USA, and two predicted future species distributions models. Using present-day distributions, this study systematically selects sets of units meeting a range of conser-vation targets; 10 to 100 occurrences of each species in the reserve network. Units provide coverage to 68 – 79% of bird species in the two future scenarios. Underrepresented species fall into two principal groups, those associated with northern tree species (Balsam fir Abies balsamea or Paper birch Betula papyrifera) and those linked to temperature variables. Changes in the geography of conservation prio-rity are highlighted by a ‘conservation priority surface’ and compared to existing protected areas. These techniques inform adaptive conservation management strategies and encourage the geographic target-ing of long-term conservation investment.

Key words: conservation investment, climate change, diversity, systematic reserve design, species distributions.