Adaptation to climate change will be difficult for Madagascar
July 29, 2008
Although Madagascar has lost about 90 percent of its natural forest cover, more than 90 percent of its plants, mammals, reptiles and amphibians are unique to the island, making it a top global biodiversity hotspot. Nevertheless climate change is projected to have a big impact on the island. Models suggest that Madagascar will lose 17-50 percent of its remaining forest habitat due to climate change if plants are unable to disperse or migrate to suitable areas. The outcome could prove devastating for flora and fauna.
A new paper, published in Biology Letters, make three recommendations that could help Madagascar's biodiversity adapt to climate change: (1) restoration and protection of riverine corridor forests important for migration; (2) maintenance and restoration of connectivity among fragmented forests, especially in regions with high genetic divergence between populations across major riverine corridors; and (3) management of all remaining natural forest to maximize the potential for species migration in response to climate change. The authors, led by Lee Hannah of Conservational International, note that riverine corridors and forest fragments can serve as key migration paths and refugia for species.
Some of these costs may be met by the emergence of ecosystem services markets, notably the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) initiative proposed by the U.N. Such a scheme, which is based on the granting of carbon credits to tropical countries for protecting their forests, could net Madagascar $72-144 million per year with $9 million in annual investment by some estimates. Nevertheless the authors seem to suggest that adaptation will be difficult in a poor country like Madagascar.
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