In the questionnaire we refer to the RAD framework, a way to categorize management actions in the face of climate change. Here is a brief explanation of it.

Anthropogenic climate change is now considered one of the main global drivers of biodiversity loss worldwide and its impact is destined to drastically increase in the upcoming years. Climate change presents a new challenge for protected area management because it differs from the traditional drivers of biodiversity loss by challenging the assumption that the future needs to resemble the past. In fact, when the climate is changing, the maintenance of an historical baseline becomes impossible even if all other stressors are eliminated. This presents new practical and philosophical challenges for conservation practitioners. To help navigate in the situation, a new operational framework has been theorized, the RAD (resist-accept-direct), which considers that management actions can manage climate change effects by either trying to resist the change in the ecosystem, accept it or direct it towards an alternative desired outcome.

Image adapted from Natur’adapt.

Until now, resisting the effects of climate change has often been the favorite option. This can be achieved through management actions targeted at maintaining or restoring some ecosystem components. One extreme example could be the constructions of barriers to protect coastal environments from the rising sea levels or simply a correct management of invasive species. In other situations, the changes may be too radical to be resisted and they can be simply accepted. An example of a situation like this, it could be when glaciers are melting faster than usual leading to changes in the hydrological conditions of the lower valleys. However, there are also cases where resisting may be too difficult and simply accepting would lead to a significant loss of biodiversity. It is here that directing the changes present a valuable alternative. In fact, it may be possible to manage an ecosystem to transform it into something new, with conditions that differs from the historical ones but that can maintain a desirable amount of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Image showing a decision tree according to the three possible management responses to climate change under a RAD framework (adapted from Schuurman et al. 2021).

It is also important to notice that these three management options can be used complementarily and they are only partially mutually exclusive. Different components of an ecosystems can be managed separately and conservation goals on a local scale can be different than on a regional level. Maybe in a specific site is possible to accept or direct the trajectory of changes while the overall desired conservation goal at a broader landscape scale is to maintain historically occurring biodiversity. To maximize the results, it is therefore important to have a systematic approach to conservation planning.