Report on the observed climate, projected climate, and projected biodiversity changes for Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda under differing levels of warming

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Critically important for the endangered Mountain Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, is among the top 1% of all non-marine protected areas, globally. Volcanoes is projected to be largely resilient to climate change, even with 4°C warming. As such, business as usual conservation, taking into account changes in the likelihood of extreme events (heat and drought), should largely be adequate. Averaged over the entire area, with 4°C warming (global, above pre-industrial), the area is projected to remain climatically suitable for 92.3% of its terrestrial biodiversity (fungi, plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates), with 97.7% 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, 100% of the area would remain a climatic refugia and the area would remain climatically suitable for 98.4% of its terrestrial biodiversity.
Between 1961-1990 and 1991-2020 the average monthly temperature has increased by 0.4° – 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. Eight months have seen declines in precipitation (especially April), and the rest wetter, especially January and October. Models project that April - July and September will become drier and the rest increase. The number of months with severe drought nearly doubled between 1961-1990 and 1986-2015.
Biodiversity adaptation options generally only allow for business-as-usual conservation to 4.0°C, taking into account changes in extreme events (especially heat and severe drought).
The human population around the park is projected to increase substantially and this could impact on the park needing carefully monitoring. Between 1992 and 2020 areas in the park have already been converted into agricultural land.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages51
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2024

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