High levels of human activity have affected the quality and usability of the natural landscape, leading to habitat degradation, loss of connectivity between sites and reduced chances of long-term survival for individual species. In line with conservation policy, ecological restoration practitioners try to improve degraded sites by means of re-establishing species lost from these sites, thereby returning ecological functionality and maintaining biological diversity. It may appear difficult to integrate the long-term potential impacts of climate change within restoration strategies. However, more refined climate projections and species distribution models provide us with better understanding of likely scenarios, enabling us to consider future proofing as an integral part of the design of restoration sites, aiding plant conservation. We believe that it is possible to go one-step further with a closer integration of restoration and conservation objectives. We introduce the novel concepts of ‘protorefuges’ and ‘protorefugia’ – restoration sites that threatened species can be translocated to, where the restoration design can be specifically adapted to help reduce the decline of threatened species at the leading and trailing edges (respectively) of bioclimatic envelope shifts. This is particularly relevant for nuclear decommissioning sites, which may be free from human activity for decades to centuries.
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- UHI Inverness - Associate Professor
- Institute for Biodiversity and Freshwater Conservation - Principal Investigator
Person: Academic Research Active