Climate change is the fastest-growing global threat to the world’s natural and cultural heritage. No systematic approach to assess climate vulnerability of protected areas and their communities has existed – until now. The ‘Climate Vulnerability Index’ (CVI) is scientifically robust, transparent and repeatable, and has now been applied in various World Heritage properties. The CVI systematically assesses vulnerability through a risk assessment approach (after IPCC) considering the key values of the area, and then assesses the economic, social and cultural aspects of the associated community. This includes evaluating the adaptive capacity of both to future changes. Climate impacts are increasingly adding to a wide range of compounding pressures (e.g., increasing tourism, infrastructure development, changing land-use practice) that are affecting places, people, customs and values. Applications of the CVI to-date have led to intentions to integrate outcomes into relevant management plans, and to periodically repeat the process enabling responsive management to changing future circumstance. The CVI has also demonstrated its potential applicability for other types of protected areas. The CVI engages local community members in identifying key climate drivers and impacts, aids communication about key climate issues to a wide range of stakeholders and provides opportunities for adaptation and impact mitigation within the community.
Dr Scott Heron is a Senior Lecturer in Physics at JCU in Townsville. Scott’s research focus is on coastal and near-shore environmental physics, involving the synthesis of physical information with the biological and/or chemical characteristics of the environment. His current work investigates impacts on coral reefs, including coral bleaching and disease, reef resilience and conservation management, within the context of climate change. This work continues from Scott’s time with the US government’s NOAA Coral Reef Watch program, with whom he remains affiliated.
Jon Day is completing a post-career PhD in the Centre at JCU in Townsville. Jon had 39 years of professional experience as a protected area planner and manager, 28 years of which were in the Great Barrier Reef. As a GBRMPA Director for 16 years, he was responsible for matters including biodiversity conservation, commencing and coordinating the Representative Areas Program (the rezoning program for the entire GBR), all heritage matters (including World Heritage) and developing the 2009 Outlook Report. Prior to that Jon worked for Victorian, Queensland, Northern Territory and federal government protected area agencies.