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Climate readiness of recovery plans for threatened Australian species

Hoeppner, Johanne Malin, Hughes, Lesley
Conservation biology 2019 v.33 no.3 pp. 534-542
climate, climate change, fauna, flora, risk, threatened species
The rapidly changing climate is posing growing threats for all species, but particularly for those already considered threatened. We reviewed 100 recovery plans for Australian terrestrial threatened species (50 fauna and 50 flora plans) written from 1997 to 2017. We recorded the number of plans that acknowledged climate change as a threat and of these how many proposed specific actions to ameliorate the threat. We classified these actions along a continuum from passive or incremental to active or interventionist. Overall, just under 60% of the sampled recovery plans listed climate change as a current or potential threat to the threatened taxa, and the likelihood of this acknowledgment increased over time. A far smaller proportion of the plans, however, identified specific actions associated with ameliorating climate risk (22%) and even fewer (9%) recommended any interventionist action in response to a climate‐change‐associated threat. Our results point to a disconnect between the knowledge generated on climate‐change‐related risk and potential adaptation strategies and the extent to which this knowledge has been incorporated into an important instrument of conservation action.