Despite progress such as the Paris Climate Agreement, climate change still spells trouble for species such as African Wild Dogs who call the Miombo Woodlands in Southern Africa home.
According to a landmark new study by the University of East Anglia, the James Cook University, and the WWF, which was published in the journal Climatic Change, a 4.5°C rise in the global mean temperature could make the climate of the area unsuitable for many of the animals and plants that live there currently. This would result in up to 90 percent of amphibians, 86 percent of birds, and 80 percent of mammals potentially becoming locally extinct in the woodlands.
Whilst the woodlands are certainly under threat, there’s trouble further south too. With South Africa’s Western Cape region currently experiencing a drought, the fynbos for which the area is famous could face localised extinctions of a third of its species, many of which are actually unique to the region.
“Our research quantifies the benefits of limiting global warming to 2°C for species in 35 of the world’s most wildlife-rich areas,” explains lead researcher Prof Rachel Warren from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA. “We studied 80,000 species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and found that 50 per cent of species could be lost from these areas without climate policy. However, if global warming is limited to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, this could be reduced to 25 per cent. Limiting warming to within 1.5°C was not explored, but would be expected to protect even more wildlife.”
You could help make a difference by turning off for Earth Hour on March 24th – a small price to pay for the survival of these extraordinary areas and the life within them.