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New science team aims to reduce extinctions
Author: Media & Communication, Faculty of Science
Published: 15/07/2016

Stellenbosch University scientists will collaborate with Conservation International (CI) and another five top international universities around the globe to model climate-change related shifts of species and ecosystems.

Called SPARC (Spatial Planning for Protected Areas in Response to Climate Change), the project will use a big data approach to plan for effective conservation in the coming decades by modelling the climate change response of over 100 000 species in the three highest diversity tropical regions: South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

These models will enable conservation managers and planners to identify the placement of future protected areas and thereby avoid extinctions due to climate change.

Prof. Guy Midgley and Dr Wendy Foden from the Department of Botany and Zoology at SU are principal investigators for Sub-Sahara Africa on this three-year project, funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). GEF is a multi-national fund that addresses global environmental problems.

The other universities involved are University of Arizona (USA), Leeds University (UK), Catholic University of Chile (Chile) and Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Gardens (China). According to a media release from CI, renowned international researchers such as Richard Leakey from the Stonybrook University and Carlos Nobre from CAPES, Brazil will form the science guidance panel of the project.  They are helping design cutting-edge methods for the massive data collection, modeling and analysis the project will undertake.

For more information, go to http://www.conservation.org/NewsRoom/Pages/Newsroom.aspx

Photo: © Jon McCormack/Elephants talking in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, Chitabe Camp.