Project Title: Forecasting climate risks to biodiversity and ecosystem services to strengthen climate change adaptation in Africa
Host Organisation: University of Cape Town, South Africa
Africa is projected to have as many as 43 million more people pushed into extreme poverty due to climate change by 2030. There is therefore an urgent need to find successful strategies to help people adapt to adverse climate change impacts. One promising strategy is to use biodiversity and the services provided by natural ecosystems—e.g., flood protection from marshlands or water filtration from forests—to help people sustain their livelihoods despite climate change. However, we lack sufficient understanding of when biodiversity that underpins important ecosystem services may be adversely affected by climate change, and how this could then disrupt ecosystem service supply, making for a potentially risky adaptation strategy. My research will help better understand and map the relationships between biodiversity and multiple important ecosystem services, such as water and fuelwood availability, for people across Sub-Saharan Africa. I will also use data from climate models and information on species geographic ranges to forecast when in this century biodiversity and ecosystem service provision may be expected to face climate-induced disruptions. The results of my research will be shared online as free and interactive maps, providing new and essential information to policymakers and communities planning and implementing climate change adaptation strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa.