Report on the observed climate, projected climate, and projected biodiversity changes for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda under differing levels of warming

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Critically important for the endangered Mountain Gorilla (containing nearly half of the population), Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, is among the top 21% of all non-marine protected areas, globally. As a park with varying topography, the higher elevations are more resilient to climate change, however most of the southern portions of the park are resilient to 4°C warming. As such, business as usual conservation, taking into account changes in the likelihood of extreme events, will be adequate except in the most northern parts of the park. Averaged over the entire area, with 4°C warming (global, above pre-industrial), the area is projected to remain climatically suitable for 66.8% of its terrestrial biodiversity (fungi, plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates), with 40.9% of its area remaining an overall refugia (remaining climatically suitable for >75% of the species) for biodiversity. If warming levels were held to 2°C, 85.8% of the area would remain a climatic refugia and the area would remain climatically suitable for 88.4% of its terrestrial biodiversity.

Between 1961-1990 and 1991-2020 the average monthly temperature has increased by 0.5° – 0.8°C. With warming levels of 1.5°C the new average monthly temperature is equivalent to that only seen 1 in 20 years in 1961-1990 for all months. Seven months have seen declines in precipitation (especially April), and the rest wetter, especially January and October. Models project that April, May, July and September will become drier and the rest increase or not change. The number of months with severe drought has more than doubled between 1961-1990 and 1986-2015.

Biodiversity adaptation options generally only allow for business-as-usual conservation to 4.0°C in the southern part of the park, taking into account changes in extreme events (especially heat and severe drought). At temperatures above 3.0°C the northern parts of the park will require increasing levels of adaptation. Mammals tend to fare somewhat better than biodiversity as a whole.

The human population around the park is projected to increase substantially and this will likely have impacts on the park as a whole and needs to be carefully monitored.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages51
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2024

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