Climate change and biodiversity conservation: some implications for Kakadu National Park
Bowman, DMJS, Climate change and biodiversity conservation: some implications for Kakadu National Park, Kakadu National Park Landscape Symposia Series 2007-2009 Symposium 4: Climate change, 6-7 August 2008, Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn, Kakadu Nat'l Park, pp. 37-41. (2010) [Refereed Conference Paper]
Global climate change is the environmental problem of the 21st century. While the specific impacts of global warming are difficult to predict the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) most recent report has identified with very high confidence that as soon at 2020 there will be a significant loss of biodiversity across a range of ecologically-rich
Australian environments. On the list of threatened environments are the wetlands of Kakadu National Park that currently supports high density of wildlife that at risk because of saltwater intrusion associated with sea-level rise. Arguably Kakadu qualifies as a World Heritage Area at risk because of climate change, so it is with bitter irony that these famous World Heritage
wetlands have now become an media icon of the looming threat of global climate change to Australia’s biodiversity.
The effects of climate change on nature reserves such as Kakadu presents profound issues that are currently being grappled with by conservation biologists worldwide. At the root of the problem is that protected areas were never designed as an insurance against climate change. Thus climate change demands managers of protected areas such as Kakadu tackle novel, deeply unsettling and unresolved scientific, administrative and philosophical issues. While the challenges of climate change are formidable, I believe solutions can be found in looking at biodiversity conservation in new ways. This requires a commitment to research, monitoring and adaptive management, managing ecosystem services such as carbon storage and water security whilst explicitly incorporating cultural perspectives in conservation planning. Despite
degradation associated with climate change, protected areas like Kakadu will remain important foci for nature conservation.