A climate-change vulnerability and adaptation assessment for Brazil's protected areas
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Brazil hosts the largest expanse of tropical ecosystems within protected areas (PAs), which shelter biodiversity and support traditional human populations. We assessed the vulnerability to climate change of 993 terrestrial and coastal-marine Brazilian PAs by combining indicators of climatic-change hazard with indicators of PA resilience (size, native vegetation cover, and probability of climate-driven vegetation transition). This combination of indicators allows the identification of broad climate-change adaptation pathways. Seventeen PAs (20,611 km(2)) were highly vulnerable and located mainly in the Atlantic Forest (7 PAs), Cerrado (6), and the Amazon (4). Two hundred fifty-eight PAs (756,569 km(2)), located primarily in Amazonia, had a medium vulnerability. In the Amazon and western Cerrado, the projected severe climatic change and probability of climate-driven vegetation transition drove vulnerability up, despite the generally good conservation status of PAs. Over 80% of PAs of high or moderate vulnerability are managed by indigenous populations. Hence, besides the potential risks to biodiversity, the traditional knowledge and livelihoods of the people inhabiting these PAs may be threatened. In at least 870 PAs, primarily in the Atlantic Forest and Amazon, adaptation could happen with little or no intervention due to low climate-change hazard, high resilience status, or both. At least 20 PAs in the Atlantic Forest, Cerrado, and Amazonia should be targeted for stronger interventions (e.g., improvement of ecological connectivity), given their low resilience status. Despite being a first attempt to link vulnerability and adaptation in Brazilian PAs, we suggest that some of the PAs identified as highly or moderately vulnerable should be prioritized for testing potential adaptation strategies in the near future.