An editorial in Nature (January 2011), encourages us to “Think Big” about conservation, parks and species.
We couldn’t agree more. Thinking and planning at a landscape scale – including legal protected areas like National Parks and Forests and corridors and other designated (formal or informal) natural lands – is perhaps our best chance to keep ecosystems functioning and species alive in the face of global climate change. This editorial speaks so clearly to why Nature Needs Half is timely, important and necessary for the function of all natural areas, from our local park to the planet as a whole.
Here is a brief excerpt from the editorial, and we encourage you to read the full editorial, Think Big >
…”Scaling up is reassuring. At the park level, climate change may extirpate a species. At the landscape level, climate change merely moves it. And scaling up is more effective. Ecologists and conservation biologists have known for decades that small isolated parks leak species. Smaller populations have smaller gene pools in which maladaptive traits are more likely to become fixed. Smaller populations are more vulnerable to drought, pests, hard winters or simple bad luck.
This is why conservation biologists, since at least the early 1990s, have called for parks to be connected to one another by unbroken corridors of nature, through which large species can move. For small mobile species, such as birds and insects, a stepping-stone scatter of protected areas close to one another has much the same effect. Climate change makes such connectivity even more important, as species challenged by the changing climate will need big gene pools to draw from and lots of different places to which they can move to. In particular, sites with microclimates to harbour species that can’t take the heat need to be identified, protected and linked to existing protected areas…”