Photo Credit: Sterling Zummbrun/CI

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in Madagascar

The climate change vulnerability assessment was designed to provide critical information for planning, development and conservation in Madagascar.  Key elements of the process included:

1.A review of the best available science on the impacts of climate change on: the ocean and climate around Madagascar; the terrestrial, marine and coastal biodiversity of Madagascar; and the sensitivity of ecosystems and species to climate change impacts.

2.A workshop that united experts in climate, oceanography, marine and terrestrial biology with protected area planners and other key local stakeholders. These specialists explored the implications of climate change for key species and environments of Madagascar.

3.Use of climate and ocean models to predict the impacts of climate change.

The output of the project provided an evaluation of the impacts of the climate change on Madagascar together with recommendations for immediate action to address them. Outputs of the assessment are expected to support planning and conservation within Madagascar. President Marc Ravalomanana has pledged to triple the island nation's total protected areas to six million hectares (23,000 square miles), including one million hectares (3,800 square miles) of marine protected areas. The long-term significance of this commitment, however, requires that the design and management of these protected areas explicitly address the effects of climate change. Timely execution of the vulnerability assessment ensured that climate change adaptation is fundamentally integrated into the protected area implementation.

With the results of the assessment, strategies for addressing climate change can be specifically designed for Madagascar. These approaches will protect marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems based on four basic tenets:

  1. 1.Protecting adequate and appropriate space:  It is necessary to protect the space needed now for ecosystem function and the space that will be needed as climate change results in habitat and species shifts.

  2. 2.Reducing non-climate stresses:  Limiting the other stresses that act with climate change to harm an ecosystem is critical to maintaining the resilience of communities and ecosystems. This includes reducing: habitat fragmentation, pollution, invasive species, overharvest, etc.

  3. 3.Using adaptive management strategies: By using adaptive management practices we can respond to the impacts of climate change as they occur.

  4. 4.Slow the rate and extent of climate change: The best protection for biodiversity and natural resources from the potential damage of climate change is to slow the rate and extent of climate change.