Oamaru Beach
PHOTO: James Mortimer | DOC

Introduction

Management actions to reduce climate changes and actions to reduce or offset carbon dioxide emissions will have an effect on our native species and ecosystems.

This is both a risk and an opportunity for conservation.

It was highlighted in a recent review of climate change impacts on native species and ecosystems in New Zealand (PDF, 725K) by Matt McGlone and Susan Walker.

The conservation, agriculture, forestry, and renewable energy generators will all need to adapt and mitigate against the effects of climate change in order to protect their industries.

Adapation

Adaptation is where management actions are undertaken to cope with climate change. Examples include:

  • increasing irrigation of farmland in dry eastern areas to combat drought, and
  • establishing drought-resistant plant varieties

Mitigation

Mitigation is where actions are undertaken which reduce or offset carbon dioxide emissions. Examples include:

  • establishing new exotic forests for carbon storage purposes, and
  • constructing new renewable power generation schemes (hydro, geothermal, and wind), which don’t create carbon emissions.

Impacts on conservation

The effects of climate change adaptation and mitigation actions by other land management sectors may impact on our native species and ecosystems. Examples include:

  • eradicating or displacing some of our native species and ecosystems
  • establishing weed sources
  • increasing fire risk and intensity
  • drying out freshwater ecosystems, and
  • increasing saltwater intrusion in coastal areas already impacted by sea level rise.

It is possible for other land management sectors to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change in ways that will also help to protect and enhance our native species and ecosystems. Examples include:

  • using native tree and scrub species for carbon storage
  • maintaining and restoring wetlands to store water for irrigation
  • softening coastlines for managed retreat, and
  • planting native riparian vegetation to shade waterways and reduce evapo-transpiration rates. 

Report on type and scale of impacts

We commissioned a report to help us understand the type and scale of potential impacts – positive and negative – on our native species and ecosystems from the climate change adaptation and mitigation actions undertaken by other land management sectors.

We were also interested in how native species and ecosystems could be used to help other land management sectors to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Read the report: How climate change responses by land managers could benefit biodiversity (PDF, 2,830K)

Athenree wetlands. Photo: Barrie Trotter. Athenree wetlands - land management sectors could restore wetlands to store water for irrigation


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