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#Climatechange man-made or natural...things are changing and not for the best
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Climate Climate General

Half of plants and animals in nature reserves in danger due to climate change

Iconic nature reserves threaten to change beyond recognition and are largely lost if nothing is done about the ongoing climate changes. They then lose up to half of their plant and animal species.
Mountain gorilla between green leaves
Mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are very dependent on the temperature in their habitat. Since they live in the mountains, temperature rises are a big problem, since they cannot live at a higher altitude without limit if it gets warmer.

This alarming report follows from a new study by the University of East Anglia, James Cook University and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In the report, which was published today in the scientific journal Climatic Change, scientists investigated the impact of different scenarios of climate change on almost 80,000 plant and animal species in 35 important natural areas around the world.

According to the researchers, their calculations show how important it is that the average global temperature does not rise above 2 degrees Celsius, as agreed in the Paris climate agreement. Then the loss of biodiversity will remain somewhat limited. Although even in that scenario the world's most important nature reserves can already lose a quarter of their species. Without intervention, the temperature rises by an average of 4.5 degrees Celsius, which, according to the scientists, has disastrous consequences.
Snow Leopard in the snow looking in the lens
Snow Leopard. By: naturepl.com / Reinhard / ARCO / WWF

Big losses

A loggerhead turtle on a Turkish beach. The animals are seriously threatened by global warming. The temperature of the sand in which sea turtles lay their eggs determines whether a male or a female crawls out of the egg. Male boy coming from the deeper and cooler located eggs. Higher temperatures can mean that only females are born, or worse, that no egg comes out.

A loggerhead turtle on a Turkish beach. The animals are seriously threatened by global warming. The temperature of the sand in which sea turtles lay their eggs determines whether a male or a female crawls out of the egg. Male boy coming from the deeper and cooler located eggs. Higher temperatures can mean that only females are born, or worse, that no egg comes out.

The Miombo Woodlands in South Africa then lose up to 90% of the amphibians present, 86% of the birds and 80% of the mammals. The Amazon may lose 69% of its plant species and 60% of all species in Madagascar then threaten to die out in any case.

The consequences in that scenario are also greater nearer home. Due to warming and less rainfall in the Mediterranean, 69% of the plants present and 60% of mammals can die out, including sea turtles.

In addition to the temperature rise, the fragmentation of their habitat also affects animals. If animal species can move, the risk of local extinction in the two degree temperature rise scenario decreases from about 25% to 20%.


Tropical fish in many colors in blue waters
Fish and coral in a nature reserve near Belize. © WNF / Antonio Busiello

Iconic nature reserves threaten to change beyond recognition within a few generations and will be largely lost

WWF director Kirsten Schuijt

"This research shows what is at stake if we do not take action against climate change," says WWF director Kirsten Schuijt. "Iconic nature reserves threaten to change beyond recognition in a few generations and will be largely lost. Endangered species, from sea turtles to tigers, may not be able to cope with the blows of climate change. And thousands of smaller plant and animal species, which form the foundation of life, threaten to die locally. This also affects the lives of people who depend on biodiversity. We can prevent this disaster scenario, if we reduce CO2 emissions quickly, drastically.''

By: vrt.be, Ben Vanheukelom. Cover photo: An African elephant and a calf in Amboseli National Park in Kenya. The animals need a lot of water. They have to drink about 150-300 liters of water per day and they bathe and play in it. Higher temperatures, less rainfall and severe droughts have a direct effect on the number of elephants: less water and therefore less green feed limits the size of elephant populations, and in dry times the mortality of calves increases. © WNF / Martin Harvey

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