Prof Richard Corlett co-hosted the final SPARC-Asia synthesis meeting in Bangkok with Prof Yongyut Trisurat of Kasetsart University, from March 4th-6th. The SPARC project (Spatial Planning for Protected Areas in Response to Climate Change) is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and administered by Conservation International (CI). It aims to assess the risks from climate change to existing protected areas across the tropics and to propose strategies by which these risks can be reduced. SPARC has both a pantropical component, including most of the modeling, and three regional components, for the Neotropics, Africa, and Asia, respectively. Prof Corlett is the Asia P.I. for SPARC.
Threats to protected areas in tropical and subtropical Asia have been assessed by a variety of methods, including the predicted speed and magnitude of climate change, modeled changes in ecosystem function, and the modeled climate-change responses of species for which we have good enough data on their current distributions. The results enable us to make spatially specific recommendations, such as extending or linking protected areas where suitable habitat is still available or can be restored, and managing the existing areas for resilience where the boundaries cannot be modified.
The synthesis meeting in Bangkok presented the SPARC results to 39 participants from seven countries in the region: China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The participants from Thailand included Dr Songtam Suksawang, the Director of the National Park Office, and Dr. Monthip Sriratana, the Director of the Climate Change Research Strategy Center, National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT). Most of the analyses were presented by CI data scientist, Patrick Roehrdanz, and the SPARC overall P.I., Lee Hannah. Prof Kyle Tomlinson and Sedricke Lapuz from XTBG presented results from their on-going work with DGVMs (digital global vegetation models) in Yunnan and Southeast Asia, showing the potentially dramatic effects of rising carbon dioxide levels on future vegetation.
The meeting included several hours of structured discussions coordinated by Prof Corlett on the application of the SPARC results in protected area planning in the region, with a focus on country-specific needs, potential contributions to the next (AR6) IPCC reports, and the CBD post-2020 targets. The meeting ended with a field trip to Khao Yai National Park to view the Highway 304 wildlife corridor linking the two major forest blocks in the 6000 km2 Dong Phayayen-Khao-Yai Forest Complex.
Participants at the SPARC-Asia meeting
Highway 304 wildlife corridor linking two major forest blocks