Canberra, April 2 : A new study by CSIRO scientists has determined that due to global warming, many of Australia's natural landscapes are bound to be transformed, thus leaving the country's wildlife to face new threats.
Temperatures over Australia are projected to rise by about 1 §C by 2030, and 1.8 §C by 2070, relative to 1990 levels.
According to Dr Michael Dunlop, the study's author, this is the reason that is forcing environmental scientists to rethink their approach.
"Some animals and plants will be found in places where they've never been seen before, and others will disappear from areas where they were once common, and for many regions the look, sound, and smell of the landscapes we are familiar with will gradually change," he said.
"Traditionally, conservation has focussed on preventing change or restoring landscapes toward a pre-European state, but we now have to accept that change is inevitable, and it's happening quite fast," he said.
According to Dr Dunlop, National Park rangers and local conservationists may be up against some new and worsening threats.
For example, it will be harder to provide enough water at the right times to maintain wetlands; mangrove systems will be squeezed between urban areas and rising sea levels; and more frequent, intense fires may turn some forests to woodland, and some woodland to grasslands.
"We need to be vigilant against new exotic weeds and pests that will benefit from changing climates," said Dr Dunlop.
"One increasing challenge will be deciding how to respond when native species turn up in new areas and threaten local species," he said.
Though the report confirms that Australia's 9 000 protected areas are critical for nature conservation in a warming world, according to Dr Dunlop, new protected areas will also be needed.
"There's a lot we don't yet understand, but we know more species will have a greater chance to adapt and survive if we protect as many different types of habitat as possible; larger areas of habitat; and locations that have historically provided a refuge for biodiversity during times of climatic stress," he said.