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By Cristina Espinoza
Five years ago, a group of researchers from the California Academy of Sciences (USA), together with other institutions, calculated that the average distance that ecosystems will have to travel to survive the increase in temperature of the planet - a product of change climate-, it will be 420 meters per year. A speed not compatible with that of the adaptation of many plants and animals, which will increase their vulnerability.
Taking into account that climate change is an irreversible phenomenon, as pointed out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most affected countries must adapt, including Chile, where the decrease in rainfall will affect, above all, ecosystems from the central area.
In this scenario, the Ministry of the Environment, through the Office of Climate Change and the division of Natural Resources, Waste and Risk Assessment, prepared the Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change in Biodiversity, whose 50 actions were approved yesterday by the Council of Ministers for sustainability.
The plan, one of the nine that are part of the National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change, contemplates measures focused on reducing anthropogenic stress (caused by man), reducing bioclimatic stress and strengthening management capacities to face the phenomenon. According to the Minister of the Environment, Pablo Badenier, the country's commitment is not only to mitigate greenhouse gases - it has a voluntary goal of reducing 20% by 2020 - but to implement action plans, "understanding that climate change is an inescapable and irreversible process ”, he points out. "Basically, what the plan detects is that due to the effects of climate change there will be a bioclimatic stress, there are certain territories, areas and protected species that will be affected and with these actions we can quantify that impact and take measures," he adds. Impact on the country
In Chile, according to a study by the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB, 2010), which analyzed 1,447 species, most of them would present reductions in their area of distribution. And, in particular, two plants (Festuca orthophylla or paja brava and Nassauvia digitata), could become extinct in the most severe scenario.
Mitigating this type of impact is among the goals of the new plan, which includes both research activities and the promotion of sustainable production practices, consideration of climate change in territorial planning and the strengthening of the National Protected Areas System. In addition to the incorporation of the subject in the curricula of preschool, basic and secondary education and the development of initiatives with university students.
According to the ministry, half of the measures will have an impact at the national level, while the rest will focus on regions or species that are already vulnerable. Among them is the huemul, a deer that is in danger of extinction, so climate change could generate additional stress that worsens their situation. In addition to the ecosystem of the Juan Fernández archipelago - a place that concentrates the largest number of endemic plant species in the country - where the flora will be protected in situ and ex situ (through a germplasm bank).
The complete plan - which will include the nine sector strategies, for health, water resources and energy - should be complete in 2015, according to the minister, who pointed out that for now, the most urgent thing is to process the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service, "because it will allow effective protection over all areas in nine categories, such as marine parks, reserves, sanctuaries, categories that are not currently administered by Conaf ”, he assures.