Memorandum submitted by the RSPB
1.1 The RSPB is Europe's largest wildlife
charity with over one million members. We are the UK partner of
BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of environment
organisations, which has more than 2.5 million members in 103
countries and owns conservation estates in excess of a million
hectares (there are BirdLife Partners in Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra
1.2 Site-based conservation, in which land
is set aside on which to conserve wildlife and its habitats, form
the backbone of much of the work of the RSPB and BirdLife. In
addition to protecting wildlife, such protected areas yield multiple
socio-economic benefits. For example, they provide local employment
and amenity value for both local and foreign visitors. Indeed,
wildlife and eco-tourism resulting from the presence of parks
and reserves is a significant source of foreign income for many
developing countries, especially in Africa.
1.3 Climate change poses fundamental problems
for nature conservation worldwide, threatening both the environment
and the people who depend upon natural resources. This memorandum
outlines this threat and identifies mechanisms both for minimising
environmental degradation and lowering greenhouse gas emissions
in developing countries.
2. THE THREAT
2.1 As the world's climate changes, zones
of similar climate will move to varying extents. For example,
in the UK, they will tend to move northwestwards and upwards in
elevation. In West Africa, drier, desert conditions will tend
to move southwards. In Brazil, drier conditions are likely to
move southwestwards, from the Northeast, into Amazonia.
2.2 Plants and animals will tend to move
with the moving climatic zones. This clearly poses problems for
a global system of nature conservation based primarily upon protected
areas of land that will not move. Moreover, not all species will
move at the same rate. Those in the middle of their ranges may
not move at all, whereas those at the extremes of their ranges
will, or risk extinction. New ecosytems are thus likely to emerge,
and some existing ones will be lost. The unique Great Karoo ecosystem
in South Africa may, for example, disappear.
2.3 Species movements are likely to be complicated
and often aggravated by an increase in extreme weather events
(such as storminess), sea level rise in coastal areas, and a host
of development pressures exacerbated by climate change. (Increasing
desertification in much of Africa will, for example, lead to increased
foraging for firewood in protected areas.)
2.4 The wildlife parks and reserves that
are the principal source of income in some of the poorest developing
countries, and a significant source in many more, are thus likely
to change substantially as a result of climate change and, in
many cases, for the worse.
3. SUPPORT FOR
3.1 In the short term, there is an urgent
need for more research into the extent of regional and local climate
change and its impacts. Whilst there is increasing levels of work
on these topics in developed countries, there is comparatively
little covering developing countries.
3.2 Climate change modelling work, which
is very expensive, is likely to continue to be performed in developed
countries in the near future. On the other hand, research into
impacts and the development of adaptation strategies, where local
knowledge is essential, is best done primarily at a local level.
3.3 It is particularly important that adaptation
of nature conservation strategies is performed at the local level,
because it is essential that it not only takes into account the
local environment but is also integrated into local sustainable
development plans. Whilst it will be necessary to broadly develop
and coordinate adaptation strategies at the international level,
their practical delivery must be local.
3.4 A number of international and regional
agreements provide for the establishment and maintenance of wildlife
parks and reserves. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD),
for example provides for the establishment of protected areas,
worldwide, as does the World Heritage Convention and the Ramsar
Convention. The "continental" conventions such as the
African and Americas wildlife treaties, and other regional agreements
such as some of the UNEP Regional Seas agreements, have similar
3.5 Many of these treaties also contain
provisions for financial support from developed to developing
countries. The CBD, for example, provides for support both bilaterally
and via the Global Environment Facility (GEF, which also serves
the Climate Change Convention and the Convention on Desertification).
The UK should offer increased support for adaptation of nature
conservation policy via both. It should also offer support for
integrating such adaptation policies into broader sustainable
4. SUPPORT FOR
4.1 The Kyoto Protocol (together with the
more detailed agreements reached in Bonn and Marrakesh in 2001)
provides an excellent basis for achieving low emission development
in developing countries. It specifically provides for fast-tracking
of smaller-scale renewable energy projects in developing countries,
especially least developed ones, via the Clean Development Mechanism.
This is intended primarily as a business investment tool, rather
than a government aid provision. DFID should therefore promote
and facilitate UK business use of the Mechanism for smaller renewables
projects in least developed countries.
4.2 The Government should not promote carbon
sequestration projects via the Clean Development Mechanism, certainly
until the detailed biodiversity safeguards for such projects are
resolved by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)