CLIMATE, SPECIES, AND PRESERVATION

In coastal areas of the U.S., plants and animals
will be refugees from rising seas.

How will Americans respond?
Lance

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” …  land managers will sometimes actually have to
embrace non-native invasive species …”

” … we should be looking to preserve land further inland
to give some of these species a chance for preservation,” she said.
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Cleveland Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio, US)
Friday, October 12, 2007

ENVIRONMENT

Preservationists need to adjust to climate change, expert says

Michael Scott
Plain Dealer Columnist

Groups who seek to preserve parks and natural
areas need to rethink their mission in light of
already advancing changes in plants and animals
because of global climate change, an ecology
expert said this week.

“Forget trying to preserve a site and an
ecosystem exactly as you would like to – as a
close representation of what it was once like
without human effect,” said William Platt, an
ecology professor at Louisiana State University.

Platt spoke Tuesday at the 34th annual Natural
Areas Conference at the Marriott Key Center in
Cleveland. He said the ap proach is a departure
from the long-accepted idea to preserve parkland
as it once was.

He told about 400 parks and natural areas
managers attending the conference that some
species of plants and animals will not be able to
keep up with coming changes. That means land
managers will sometimes actually have to embrace
non-native invasive species which thrive in salt
water, for example.

Platt referred to the bleak forecast for
Louisiana where the Gulf of Mexico is rising at a
rate where 70 percent of the current coast is
projected to be under salt water by 2100 as “a
harbinger of things to come elsewhere,” including
Ohio.

Changes are already evident in the Great Lakes
region, said Kim Herman, president of the Natural
Areas Association, who lives in Michigan’s Upper
Peninsula. She said Platt made sense when he said
that some species would “stretch” inland while
others would be “squeezed” from that advance.

“That means we should be looking to preserve land
further inland to give some of these species a
chance for preservation,” she said.

Climate effect:

An article in this month’s “National Parks” makes
this astonishing point: 73 percent of what was
once ice in Montana’s Glacier National Park is
now bare rock.

Some scientists project that by 2030 – only 23
years from now – there won’t even be a glacier in
the glacier park.

Several national parks managers echoed what Platt
told the Cleveland crowd: Climate change
discussion has moved from whether it’s actually
happening to how to best respond to it.

So national parks are likely to become more and
more “carbon neutral,” using trams to move people
around instead of cars, for example. Many parks
will also use the changes as educational
opportunities.

© 2007 cleveland.com All Rights Reserved.

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