Study Finds Climate Change Missing from Recovery Plans

A study published in Conservation Biology earlier this year examined federal recovery plans for species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The authors reviewed each plan for mention of climate change and evaluated the analysis of climate-related threats to the species’ recovery. They found that while just over 10% of all plans cited climate change as a threat, nearly 60% of plans written from 2005 to 2008 included some discussion of climate change. Only 29 species plans attributed climate change to anthropogenic effects, and the majority of those were in a combined plan for 18 Hawaiian bird species; the Hawaiian plan was the only one to include reduction in carbon emissions as necessary for recovery.

The authors concluded that older recovery plans, especially those that already reference threats to the species that will be worsened or caused by climate change, need to be revised to include explicit discussion of climate change. They asserted that federal recovery plans, as reliable and scientific accounts of threats to listed species, could provide comprehensive information on the global threats of climate change as well as an imperative to policy makers to address mitigation and adaptation.

Sources: The Center for Biodiversity, Conservation Biology.

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