Environmental change: Prospects for conservation and agriculture in a southwest Australia biodiversity hotspot

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Abstract

© 2015 by the author(s). Accelerating environmental change is perhaps the greatest challenge for natural resource management; successful strategies need to be effective for decades to come. Our objective is to identify opportunities that new environmental conditions may provide for conservation, restoration, and resource use in a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot in southwestern Australia. We describe a variety of changes to key taxonomic groups and system-scale characteristics as a consequence of environmental change (climate and land use), and outline strategies for conserving and restoring important ecological and agricultural characteristics. Opportunities for conservation and economic adaptation are substantial because of gradients in rainfall, temperature, and land use, extensive areas of remnant native vegetation, the ability to reduce and ameliorate areas affected by secondary salinization, and the existence of large national parks and an extensive network of nature reserves. Opportunities presented by the predicted environmental changes encompass agricultural as well as natural ecosystems. These may include expansion of aquaculture, transformation of agricultural systems to adapt to drier autumns and winters, and potential increases in spring and summer rain, carbon-offset plantings, and improving the network of conservation reserves. A central management dilemma is whether restoration/preservation efforts should have a commercial or biodiversity focus, and how they could be integrated. Although the grand challenge is conserving, protecting, restoring, and managing for a future environment, one that balances economic, social, and environmental values, the ultimate goal is to establish a regional culture that values the unique regional environment and balances the utilization of natural resources against protecting remaining natural ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)Article 10
JournalEcology and Society
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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environmental change
biodiversity
agriculture
natural resource
land use
environmental values
ecosystem
salinization
nature reserve
resource use
farming system
aquaculture
resource management
national park
environmental conditions
rainfall
vegetation
winter
carbon
climate

Cite this

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title = "Environmental change: Prospects for conservation and agriculture in a southwest Australia biodiversity hotspot",
abstract = "{\circledC} 2015 by the author(s). Accelerating environmental change is perhaps the greatest challenge for natural resource management; successful strategies need to be effective for decades to come. Our objective is to identify opportunities that new environmental conditions may provide for conservation, restoration, and resource use in a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot in southwestern Australia. We describe a variety of changes to key taxonomic groups and system-scale characteristics as a consequence of environmental change (climate and land use), and outline strategies for conserving and restoring important ecological and agricultural characteristics. Opportunities for conservation and economic adaptation are substantial because of gradients in rainfall, temperature, and land use, extensive areas of remnant native vegetation, the ability to reduce and ameliorate areas affected by secondary salinization, and the existence of large national parks and an extensive network of nature reserves. Opportunities presented by the predicted environmental changes encompass agricultural as well as natural ecosystems. These may include expansion of aquaculture, transformation of agricultural systems to adapt to drier autumns and winters, and potential increases in spring and summer rain, carbon-offset plantings, and improving the network of conservation reserves. A central management dilemma is whether restoration/preservation efforts should have a commercial or biodiversity focus, and how they could be integrated. Although the grand challenge is conserving, protecting, restoring, and managing for a future environment, one that balances economic, social, and environmental values, the ultimate goal is to establish a regional culture that values the unique regional environment and balances the utilization of natural resources against protecting remaining natural ecosystems.",
author = "Neil Pettit and Bob Naiman and Julia Fry and Dale Roberts and Paul Close and Brad Pusey and Geoff Woodall and C.J. Macgregor and Peter Speldewinde and {Cook (nee Stewart)}, Barbara and Rebecca Dobbs and Harriet Paterson and Peter Cook and Sandy Toussaint and S. Comer and Peter Davies",
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AU - Fry, Julia

AU - Roberts, Dale

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AU - Pusey, Brad

AU - Woodall, Geoff

AU - Macgregor, C.J.

AU - Speldewinde, Peter

AU - Cook (nee Stewart), Barbara

AU - Dobbs, Rebecca

AU - Paterson, Harriet

AU - Cook, Peter

AU - Toussaint, Sandy

AU - Comer, S.

AU - Davies, Peter

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