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Planning protected areas network that are relevant today and under future climate change is possible: the case of Atlantic Forest endemic birds

A key strategy in biodiversity conservation is the establishment of protected areas. In the future, however, the redistribution of species in response to ongoing climate change is likely to affect species’ representativeness in those areas. Here we quantify the effectiveness of planning protected areas network to represent 151 birds endemic to the Brazilian Atlantic Forest hotspot, under current and future climate change conditions for 2050.We combined environmental niche modeling and systematic conservation planning using both a county and a regional level planning strategy. We recognized the conflict between biodiversity conservation and economic development, including socio-economic targets (as opposed to biological only) and using planning units that are meaningful for policy-makers. We estimated an average contraction of 29,500 km2 in environmentally suitable areas for birds, representing 52% of currently suitable areas. Still, the most cost-effective solution represented almost all target species, requiring only ca. 10% of the Atlantic Forest counties to achieve that representativeness, independent of strategy. More than 50% of these counties were selected both in the current and future planned networks, representing >83% of the species. Our results indicate that: (i) planning protected areas network currently can be useful to represent species under climate change; (ii) the overlapped planning units in the best solution for both current and future conditions can be considered as “no regret” areas; (iii) priority counties are spread throughout the biome, providing specific guidance wherever the possibility of creating protected area arises; and (iv) decisions can occur at different administrative spheres (Federal, State or County) as we found quite similar numerical solutions using either county or regional level strategies.

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