Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Building natural buffers to climate change in South Africa

Sheree Baga in (South Africa): Dr Jeanne Nel wa not going to talk about the “doom and gloom” environmental messages of the consequences of climate change, or the need to become “greenies”. These messages tend to leave South Africans feeling hopeless, she believes.

So instead Nel, a conservation biologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, told her audience about how natural ecosystems in South Africa could be used to protect the country from some of the worst impacts of climate change.

In her talk ahead of the upcoming global climate change talks in Durban, entitled: “Adapting to climate change the natural way” in Pretoria on Thursday, Nel explained climate change would bring with it gradually “warmer temperatures everywhere, more so in the interior”.

It would also mean wetter conditions on the east coast, drier conditions in the far west, increased seasonal variability and increased frequency of extreme events.

Until now, said Nel, the main focus on dealing with climate change has been on strategies to mitigate it by tackling the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, or through adaptation strategies that strive to reduce the vulnerability of “people and places” to its impacts. But more and more, said Nel, an emerging focus is on ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change “by improving the resilience of landscapes”....

Cape Lowland Freshwater Wetland in the Western Cape. South Africa. Shot by Abu Shawka, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

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