Human activities have never had such a huge influence on the rate of change of global ecological systems as at current time. Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes, deforestation, land use change, and agriculture are the biggest culprits of global warming. Around the world, meteorological observations indicate an increase in annual average temperatures.

Credits Claudia Capitani

Climate change is amongst the greatest future challenges for many African countries. Tackling its impacts will have substantial influence on the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs), at country and local levels, such as poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity and ecosystems conservation and restoration.

Climate change is expected to pose serious threats to Eastern and Southern Africa, and some effects have already been seen. It may exacerbate existing risks such as water stress, the spread of infectious diseases, and food insecurity. Eastern Southern Africa region is characterised by highly variable climatic conditions associated with fluctuating temperature and rainfall. The region is prone to frequent and intense El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, leading to widespread drought in some areas and widespread flooding in others.

Climate change interacts with other risks such as LULCC, invasive species, disease outbreaks as well as political instability, therefore vulnerability is context specific. Local communities have co-evolved with the natural environment for a long time and have put in place coping strategies that in some cases may enhance resilience to climate change impacts, while in other cases may not be sufficient. Coupling climate model outputs and participatory approaches can help disentangling such complex interactions for improving adaptation strategies towards win-win solutions for both human and wildlife communities.

Credits Claudia Capitani

On the other hand, due the intrinsic static designation protected areas may fail to fulfil their objectives where great shifts in environmental conditions are observed and/or expected due to climate change (e.g. in pesence of steep environmental gradients such as for coastal and mountain ecosystems). Other conserved areas such as community or private conservancies may play an essential role in ensuring dynamic conservation effort.

In semiarid ecosystems, climatic changes in frequency and severity of droughts are likely to exacerbate the effects of drought on forage availability, which can feed back to regulate reproduction and offspring recruitment among ungulates and therefore of rangeland dynamics. These impacts may have implications for both domestic and wildlife ungulates, and the related economic activities of pastoralism and tourism industry. Conflicts and land use competition may be exacerbated across protected area boundaries.

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