There are clear challenges associated with uncertainty of forecasts, variability of climate impacts, and limited understanding of climate change impacts on biodiversity that influence our ability to develop strategies aimed at making species and ecosystems resilient to climate change in Myanmar.
First, although the physics of global warming are well known and understood, the predictive power is poor for how this process affects terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems at different scales, essential for effective conservation action. There is significant variability in relevant downscaled forecasts from different global circulation models (GCMs) which must form the basis for adaptation planning for climate change impacts on biodiversity (Wiens & Bachelet 2010).
Second, in addition to key, direct threats that climate change poses to biodiversity (e.g., sea-level rise, the impacts of severe droughts) there are less obvious impacts that affect ecosystems that are hard to predict. Key abiotic characteristics, the basic building blocks of a species’ fundamental niche (e.g. temperature, rainfall, evapotranspiration) will change and affect distribution and abundance of many species in unknown ways. Consequently, given both the uncertainty in projecting future climates and the uncertainty inherent in most relevant ecological forecasting approaches, conservation managers must become comfortable undertaking conservation actions within realms of uncertainty (Watson et al. 2011a & 2011b).
Third, the impacts of climate change are not simply those of average temperature increase or sea-level rise: the extremes may be far more important. Conservation planning and adaptation needs to consider discrete impacts principally extreme weather events (e.g., storms, droughts, fires) that drastically alter the resilience and persistence of ecosystems and species.