A New Map Charts Human Impact on Ecosystems

September 19, 2013

A new map shows the regional effects of climate change and identifies those areas that are most, and least, vulnerable.

Scientists have created a new map that factors human actions into future climate change predictions for different regions. It was published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change and may help conservationists navigate difficult decisions about resource allocation. 

The map places climate change within a human context and allows scientists to determine how those changes will interact with already modified environments. As opposed to looking at the effect climate change will have on ecosystems independently, the new additions to the map offer a useful gauge of future repercussions. 

 Based on their studies, scientists reclassified some regions not formerly considered in danger from climate change due to human development, and vice versa. The map includes guidelines as to where conservationists, governments, and others should focus their efforts on protected areas, restoration efforts, and other conservation activities so as to have the biggest return on investment in saving ecosystems and the services they provide to wildlife and people alike.

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