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Global Warming Research Shows Need For Protected Areas PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joachim Willms [Managing Director]   

A study by a team of international scientists from from the United States, South Africa, United Kingdom, Spain and Mexico, published March 30 in the journal Frontiers in Environment and Ecology (FREE) concludes that protected areas are necessary for preventing the loss of species due to climate change, provided that shifts in species’ ranges are factored into early analysis of whether to expand current protected areas or create new ones. It is the first research on the relevancy of protected areas, a mainstay of conservation efforts, in adapting to climate change.

Lee Hannah, a Conservation International (CI) climate scientist and the study’s lead author was quoted saying:

Extinctions due to climate change are not inevitable. This research shows that new protected areas can greatly reduce the risk faced by species that help sustain us. Areas set aside for nature are an important tool to combat climate change extinctions, and one that is well-tested and can be deployed immediately.

The questions that arise for us British Columbians is: when will Environment Minister Baird begin to take effective measures to set aside more protected areas that will sustain us all? And when will the feds put an end to the threat posed by pollution from shipping?

Granted that a cluster of rocky, windswept islands off the northern tip of Vancouver Island has become one of Canada’s newest marine protected areas. But protecting the Scott Islands has been in the works for a long time. Moreover, the spectre of opening up the coast to offshore oil and gas exploration remains a major threat.

The Scott Islands, is one of three protected areas named in the recent federal budget, along with Sable Island on the East Coast and Lancaster Sound in the eastern Arctic. The span of the islands is just over 6,000 hectares.

More than two million seabirds, almost half the total breeding population of seabirds in B.C. nest annually on the islands (most on Triangle Island). Eleven of the 12 species that nest on the islands are designated as vulnerable.

Triangle Island has B.C.’s only ground-nesting bald eagles, several Peregrine falcon eyries and also the largest Steller sea lion rookery in B.C. (second largest in the world). Other marine mammals in the area include humpbacks, blue whales, orcas and sea otters.

The budget set aside $19 million over two years to improve the health of Canada’s oceans, including creation of six more marine protected areas and increased enforcement and surveillance to prevent pollution from ships.

Chris Genovali of the Raincoast Conservation Society said a concern with government’s approach is that pollution from tanker traffic or other vessels does not stop at the edge of a protected area. And who can disagree with that statement?

We have yet to see increased enforcement and surveillance of polluting discharge from freighters, tankers and cruise ships and time is of the essence.

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