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PhD candidate
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Protected Areas
 Need for special attention; vulnerability of species
 Geographically designed space
 Human-specified borders
 Specific management systems
 IUCN: A clearly defined geographical space, recognized,
dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective
means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with
associated ecosystem services and cultural values.
 CBD: Protected area is a geographically defined area which
is designated/ regulated and managed to achieve specific
conservation objectives.
Protected Areas
 Ecological, economical and cultural values
 Transboundary protected areas: international
 Geographical range size is a fundamental criterion
for determining when a species faces a heightened
risk of extinction
 Lack of proper supervision and management:
extinction of the species at alarming rates
Protected Areas: growth
1962: 1.54% of land surface
2003: 12% of land surface
Tropical rainforests in the Orinoco basin, Venezuela
Photo© Mariapia Bevilacqua, ACOANA, Caracas.
Biome is a major regional or global biotic community, such
as a grassland, forest or desert, characterized chiefly by the
dominant forms of plant life and the prevailing climate.
Climate Change and Biomes
 Climate: largest factor affecting vegetation pattern of a
particular biome.
 Global Climate Change: Already affecting living
systems (IPCC 2007).
Biome shift
 Shifts in plant species and biome distribution in
response to warming
 Climate Change increases the probability of shifts
 Species are subject to increasing temperatures
and/or changes in water regimes.
 Each 1o Celsius of temperature change moves
ecological zones of Earth by about 160 km in a
North–South direction (Thuiller 2007)
Climate-induced shifts
 Geographical shifts of herbs, birds and butterflies in
protected areas: @ 6 km per decade due to the shifts in
the biomes (Paramesan & Yohe 2003)
 Mediterranean biome moving to the cold- temperate
boundary: Temperate forests and heath lands withdraw
to higher altitudes.
 Changes in vegetation distribution: new indication of
complex global change effects on life.
Biome Shifts
The Kyetrak Glacier, Tibet, as photographed in 1921 by Major E.O.
Wheeler and in 2009 by David Breashears. The glacier has retreated
creating a lake , where there used to have ice and snow (Wheeler photo
courtesy of Royal Geographical Society. 2009 Photo © David
Breashears; Source: Yale E360)
Species shift ranges, new threats
“Range-restricted species, particularly polar and mountaintop
species, show severe range contractions and have been the first
groups in which entire species have gone extinct due to recent
climate change” Parmesan 2006
American Pika (Ochotona princeps)
 Not in the US endangered species list
 Very much sensitive to temperatures
 Disappearing from lower elevations. In
Yosemite National Park: from 7800 feet to
9500 feet in 90 years (Ruhl 2008)
 Nine out of 25 known pika populations in the
Great Basin of Nevada and Utah disappeared
over the past century, and the surviving pikas
moved 900 feet up
Photo © Corbis
Whooping Crane
(Total population 470 in 2006)
International Environmental Law
 Law serves a number of functions in relation to living
 It can be
 Distributive, determining who is to have ownership
or access to the resources
 Conservatory, preserving the resources as such or at
least doing so at levels that can sustain exploitation
 Proscriptive, prohibiting for conservatory, ethical or
moral reasons the exploitation of resources.
International legal regimes on the establishment
and management of protected areas
World Heritage Convention
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals
Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Convention on Biological Diversity
 UNESCO: Man and Biosphere with 507 sites
Regional legal arrangements
 There are very effective multilateral and bilateral
regional arrangements between states for managing
habitats with transboundary features
Habitat Directive in EU
Migratory Bird Treaties (US, Canada, Mexico)
The Western Hemisphere Convention
ASEAN and SAARC initiatives
International Environmental Law
 Geographical shifts: the role of the law is more complex
 Establishment of the source of jurisdiction over the
concerned species and their habitats
Other regulations, establishment of international
Compliance and enforcement mechanisms and dispute
settlement arrangement
Control and prevention of environmental harm and
sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystems
The present complex issues require more sophisticated but
flexible approach to enforcement than one based primarily
on interstate claim for damages.
Challenges posed by biome shifts
 New boundaries: movement of biomes and hence
movement of the species.
 Need to change boundaries of protected areas, so as to
protect a particular biome.
 Domestic law intervention as the property rights of the
individuals and communities would come into picture.
 Balancing of rights and public interests: a major
hurdle for the states.
 States should find an effective cost benefit way of
balancing these interests.
 Sovereignty of states: states are apprehensive about
compromising their sovereign rights over natural
resources within their boundary.
 International organizations provide a forum in which
these concerns like liability under agreements, safety
concerns, conservation of resources over borders.
 Economic factors play an important role in
internationalizing efforts to safe guard species.
 Resource shifts, Resource use rights:
management in an international context. The shift
might lead to conflicts and in case the states share a
vulnerable relation it could be more sensitive.
 More transboundary movement of endangered
Species: The movement of species across the wider
landscape, while ensuring the continued viability of
individual protected areas.
 Ability of the protected area network to retain its
efficacy in the projected impacts of climate change.
 States have agreed to many further rules of
international environmental law, confirming that
global action to implement these rules is both
appropriate and accepted by states
 Strengthening of the existing regime, increasing the
membership and coordination.
 Convention on Migratory Species is a regime which
could be strengthened because of its flexible
approach through Agreements and MoUs.
 Soft law is preferred by many states.
 Combined efforts by CBD, CMS, RAMSAR, WHC,
UNEP, CITES, UNFCCC and IUCN is required.