Conservation International (CI) and six top international universities have announced the launch of a team of scientists that will provide tropical countries with the information needed to avoid extinctions due to climate change. The project, Spatial Planning for Protected Areas in Response to Climate Change (SPARC), will use a big data approach to plan for effective conservation in the coming decades by modeling the climate change response of over 100,000 species in tropical ecosystems on three continents. SPARC is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a multi-national fund that addresses global environmental problems.
"Parks protect species from extinction - from loss of habitat AND from climate change, if we put them in the right places." – Lee Hannah, Senior Scientist Climate Change Biology, Conservation International
Recognizing that species and ecosystems move to track suitable climate, the research team will anticipate these movements by drawing on information contributed from scientists around the planet. SPARC will model the effect of climate change on rare tropical plant and animal species. This will allow governments, scientists and conservationists to identify regions and ecosystems that, if protected, preserve biodiversity and critical ecosystems. The goal is to build networks of protected areas that reduce extinctions due to climate change, at the same time delivering clean water, tourism opportunities and numerous other benefits to people.