- Plans are underway to ensure that climate change does not compromise Africa's biodiversity or cause irrevocable damage, especially on birdlife.
Pioneering research to help biodiversity survive the impacts of climate change across Africa has been announced today at a workshop in Kigali, Rwanda, hosted by Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (BirdLife in Rwanda) on behalf of BirdLife Africa Partnership.
The work funded by MacArthur Foundation, brings together BirdLife Africa Partnership, RSPB, Durham University (UK) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) with expertise to consolidate data on Africa's biodiversity.
Project has mapped current and future distributions of all bird species on mainland Africa by using climate change models to determine distance and direction of shifts for each species in future.
Particular emphasis of work, is understanding how well Important Bird Areas (IBAs) network in Africa can sustain the continent's bird with future climate change.
Dr Julius Arinaitwe, BirdLife International's Regional IBA Manager for Africa, said, "There are very few plans to protect biodiversity from effects of climate change anywhere in world. BirdLife International is leading drive to develop strategies to protect our unique wildlife for future generations."
BirdLife International is leading the drive to develop strategies to protect unique Africa's wildlife for future generations.
Dr Steve Willis, lecturer at Durham University's Environmental Change Research Group, and a leading expert on climate change modeling, said, "We have modelled possible future distributions of all Africa's birds and results are worrying - many species are projected to suffer a reduction in range size and a small proportion may go extinct completely."
More detailed analysis is said to be carried out within Albertine Rift region of Africa to identify actions that will increase resilience of IBA network to future climate change.
Workshop in Rwanda brings together governments, academic institutions, NGOs and local community from Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, all of which are included within the Albertine Rift mountains complex.
Dr Willis commented, "In the Albertine Rift, our models project that species will move upwards altitudinally, and clearly the higher up a mountain you go, the less land area there is. We need to start acting now to prevent these unique species disappearing altogether."
"The main challenge is to try to protect birds where they are now and at same time to help them to follow a shifting climate. We need to start planning their conservation in areas where they currently do not even occur. The problems are huge but we cannot simply sit back and watch our natural heritage disappear," Dr Arinaitwe added.
Important Bird Areas are essential for livelihoods of many people in Africa, and are backbone of tourism industry, a major source of revenue for African economies.
Most of these areas are also key reservoirs for water and pollinators and so their protection is an important component of adaptation to climate change in other fields such as agriculture, demography, energy, and urbanisation.
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