Expanding the protected area network in a changing climate

Event Details

March 28, 2023
4:10 pm
Claude T Bissel Building, Room 205


Guest speaker: Joshua Lawler, University of Washington
Host: M.J. Fortin and Centre for Global Change Science Distinguished Lecturer Series 

Researchers and conservationists have called for conserving 30-50% of the earth’s surface to help address the ongoing biodiversity and climate crises. To be successful, such an expansion of the global reserve network will need to address the climate-intensified challenges of species movements, ecological transformations, increasing human demand for ecosystem services, environmental injustices, carbon sequestration, and an expanding sustainable energy footprint. These challenges will not be overcome by simply doubling or tripling the footprint of highly protected areas. Instead, a realistic expansion of the current protected area network will likely involve creating conservation landscape and seascape mosaics with a range of levels and types of protection, regulation, incentives, and management as well as new conservation targets and approaches. To be effective, such mosaics will need to be designed to increase connectivity, protect climate refugia, increase carbon sequestration, and equitably provide ecosystem services. The success of these areas at conserving biodiversity will also depend on how they are selected and managed, process that will be aided by scenario planning, stewarding transitions, and increasing environmental justice and respecting Indigenous sovereignty. A mosaic of lands and waters designed to conserve functioning ecosystems and facilitate the adaptation of both humans and non-human species could, in addition to conserving biodiversity, potentially result in a more livable world for all.