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Reassessing conservation goals in a changing climate


Climate change poses a hierarchy of significant challenges for conservation policy. First, the sheer scale of climate change calls for conservation efforts to be vastly stepped up. Second, the pace and extent of expected climate change will probably undermine the effectiveness of traditional conservation tools focused on protecting designated areas from human intrusion. The search for novel conservation strategies that will stand up to global shifts in climate highlights a third challenge: New conditions and new tools require a reassessment of our conservation goals. This third challenge has so far not been the subject of much debate, but merits closer and more systematic attention. The debate may be uncomfortable, but avoiding it complicates the tasks of prioritizing conservation efforts and choosing conservation tools. More important, the failure to explicitly identify conservation goals that acknowledge climate change is likely to lead to failure to achieve those goals.