A Luc Hoffmann Institute (LHI) project on climate change adaptation is promoting research cooperation between Australia and Colombia.
The Conservation Futures project is generating scientific knowledge on the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Colombia’s protected areas. The aim is to boost the capacity of protected area institutions to anticipate and respond to long-term social and ecological change.
Protected areas such as national parks and reserves are key to helping communities and nature adapt to a changing climate. They build resilience, buffer the impacts of extreme weather, underpin food and water provision, and protect biodiversity. Maintaining these areas and the benefits they provide in the face of climate change requires knowledge that is relevant, accessible and easily integrated into policy, planning and management.
Conservation Futures was presented at the first Forum on Joint Collaboration in Research Between Colombia and Australia held recently at the Colombian Embassy in Canberra, Australia as an example of bilateral research collaboration. The two countries are expanding relations based on trade, investment and cooperation on a range of international issues, including the environment, agricultural development and climate change. The project involves international partners including CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), Australian National University (ANU), WWF Colombia and Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia (Colombian National Parks).
Presentations during the event described how the project, facilitated by WWF Colombia, is supporting Colombia’s national park system by increasing understanding of ecological transformation and its implications for protected area management. It is strengthening protected area governance by addressing climate change impacts in planning and management.
Colombia’s significant institutional and professional capacity is one of the reasons the country was selected as a test case for Conservation Futures. The presentations outlined how the project is being implemented, its methodology and how the approaches could be applied to other conservation areas.
LHI Fellow, Claudia Múnera, based at ANU, is key to the project’s collaborative approach. She has been developing the methodology and conceptual frameworks to connect the academic research with conservation practice.
Colombian Ambassador, HE Clemencia Forero Ucros, emphasised the critical role of Colombia’s protected areas system in climate change adaptation and mitigation. She flagged the country’s leadership at the United Nations climate conference in Paris in 2015 where 18 Latin American countries signed the REDPARQUES declaration (Protected Areas and Climate Change) which highlights the need to safeguard protected areas for the future. She also highlighted the importance of collaborations like those of Conservation Futures in the ongoing peace process in Colombia.
The forum, the first of its kind, was intended to increase awareness about the ongoing scientific collaboration between Colombia and Australia on climate change as an emerging issue.
News update (in Spanish) on the website of the Colombian Embassy in Australia
Blog post by Claudia Múnera and Carolina Figueroa of the Conservation Futures project:
Climate change, biodiversity and the peace process in Colombia
Main image: Kogi children walking along a small stream in the Tayrona National Park of Colombia © Days Edge Productions / WWF-US