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GLCN and Ecosystems Vulnerable to Climate Change

Climate change has a dramatic impact on ecosystems at global scale. Combined with other factors that lead to ecosystem changes (e.g., river flows modification by construction of dams, increased demand of water from agriculture, agricultural land encroaching into natural habitats, etc.) it threatens all types of habitat, some of them being more vulnerable than others.
vulnerable ecosystems: mangrove forests
vulnerable ecosystems: mangroves
Coastal areas, mountains, forests, inland waters, dry and sub-humid lands and islands have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to climate change, due to their intrinsically lower resilience with respect to other ecosystems.

The effects that climate change and human activities will have (and are currently having) on these vulnerable ecosystems are manifold and sometimes unpredictable. In fact, because changes in the climate system will continue into the future regardless of emissions mitigation, strategies for protecting climate-sensitive ecosystems through management will be increasingly important.

Strategies adopted for such purposes can be of varied nature and following different approaches, and the decision may be taken at country level rather than globally, so that implementation is easier. We all depend directly or indirectly on the products and services provided by ecosystems, thus strategies for long term conservation of environment and its resources cannot avoid the inclusion of actions for management of people. Increasing pressures on the land and the ecosystems call for intervention from the economic sector for the adoption of schemes that would ensure the conservation of natural resources while minimizing the impact on welfare of local populations. Decisions need to be taken on whether settlements and associated human activities in vulnerable areas might be moved to new locations or protected through measures that ensure the minimum impact on the area they occupy. In many cases economic schemes such as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) may be adopted.

Ecosystem services by 3 land management systems
Ecosystem services supplied by 3 different land management systems
These are a class of economic instruments designed to provide incentives to land users to continue supplying an environmental (ecological) service that is benefiting society (e.g., avoid to carry on activities that may cause a change in the ecosystem), thus a management decision needs to be taken with knowledge on the current and future potentials of the land to provide the services. Such critical decisions are taken on the basis of available knowledge and information coming from scientific research and robust monitoring schemes.

SOFA: carbon gap
FAO-SOFA: carbon gaps potential
The GLCN is providing a significant contribution to the monitoring of vulnerable ecosystems through a series of initiatives that aim at providing the most updated baseline data on some of the most critical ecosystems, focusing on monitoring change in land cover, modeling potentials of ecosystem production and thus providing the whole array of users and relevant authorities sufficient data support and technical training for critical decisions.
Coastal: Forests: Mountains:


 
Food and Agriculture Organizations of UN United Nations Environment Programme Istituto Agronomico Oltremare (IAO) Italian Cooperation
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