Podcast: Matt McGlone on conservation and climate change

Climate Change Adaptation: “Managing the unavoidable” is the theme of a conference underway in Wellington, organised by the New Zealand Climate Change Centre.

The event aimed to stimulate discussion of adaptation scenarios for different sectors, organised around the following themes:

  • Land-based primary industries (farming, agriculture, horticulture, forestry)
  • Energy and industry (including mining and manufacturing)
  • Maori
  • Health
  • Local government (including transport and infrastructure)
  • Conservation and natural systems (including biodiversity and biosecurity)

Lead speaker Matt McGlone, Science Leader at Landcare Research presented an overview of adaptation strategies from the conservation and biosecurity sectors. In his presentation he highlighted some of the threats to native ecosystems expected from different climate change scenarios, and also the unexpected responses from natural systems that his research team has encountered over the years.

He emphasised in particular the difficulty of taking preemptive action in response to perceived threats from climate change, and warned that our knowledge of the systems we want to protect is still extremely limited.

Some excerpts:

“I like to think of biodiversity managers being asked to think about climate change as someone standing in front of a burning building being asked to think about flood insurance.”

“This is the reality for biodiversity in New Zealand — it’s not going to get to the top of the agenda, so we’ve got to spend our money incredibly wisely…The kind of costs that it would take for us as biodiversity managers would be extremely high, and we would run that horrible risk of preparing ourselves for the wrong risks…so going after climate change itself, doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Listen to the full presentationby clicking on the player below.