«К 25-ЛЕТИЮ ЗАПОВЕДНИКА “ДАУРСКИЙ” ПРОБЛЕМЫ АДАПТАЦИИ К ИЗМЕНЕНИЮ КЛИМАТА В БАССЕЙНАХ РЕК ДАУРИИ: ЭКОЛОГИЧЕСКИЕ И ВОДОХОЗЯЙСТВЕННЫЕ АСПЕКТЫ Сборник научных трудов ...»
We discuss the direct and indirect impacts of the main consequences of climate changes on communities of wildlife and vegetation, and give examples. Most of them are the result of research conducted within the framework of the international cooperation of Russian-Mongolian-Chinese Dauria International Protected Area.
Some of the most important conclusions of our project research are the following:
Due to clear cyclic changes in humidity habitats in Daurian eco-region change. During dry phases habitats with tall plants, which provide much foraging capacity and good protection, reduce in area, and most of the wetlands vanish completely, while in wet phases they appear again and provide a sharp rise in biological productivity.
The vegetation of Dauria is adapted to cyclical climate changes and resiliently reacts with uctuations and cyclical succession.
In dry phases the steppe border in the south gives way to the desert, and in the north it shifts the forest limit; in wet phases the reverse processes take place. Most of the species, both aquatic and terrestrial, survive drought using different adaptation strategies.
The most important are: surviving in few refuge habitats; persisting in the dormant phase of the life cycle; survival of non-reproductive adult individuals. The distribution areas of many ground vertebrates pulsate in concord with the cyclic changes in humidity. But the continuing warming gradually destroys the complete reversibility of these processes and leads to aridization.
On the whole, in Dauria the dry phase of the 30-year humidity climate cycle, which occurs against the background of global warming, causes remarkably strong changes in nature with mostly negative consequences: the level of biological diversity falls, as well as the sustainability and productivity of natural ecosystem complexes, the biomass of living organisms decreases, the borders of the ranges and migration routes of mammals and birds shift. Many vertebrate species nd themselves on the brink of survival.
Action-oriented Ecosystem Monitoring Multi-year research conducted by DIPA staff resulted in accumulation of considerable body of knowledge on ecosystems and species of Dauria and spurred development of new comprehensive ecological monitoring system that is oriented towards integration of science and development of sound science-based policies in conservation and natural resource management.
Now all activities are integrated into one program of research and nature conservation called “Impact of climate change on ecosystems of Daurian ecoregion and ecosystembased adaptations to them”.
The key element of the Program is a system of long-term ground and remote-sensing monitoring of wetlands in the transboundary upper Amur-river basin. Main tasks of the monitoring system are 1) to study inuence of climate variability on the upper Amur basin wetlands;
2) to develop scientic basis for sustainable adaptation of national and international politics of nature resources management to climate change and biodiversity conservation.
3) to use monitoring results to guide development of specic adaptation measures.
The monitoring network includes more than 200 plots at oodplains and at lake shores (Fig.2) on the territory of about 200,000 sq.km. (most of them are designed for monitoring both vegetation and animal populations). This wide network allows the Project to get data on spatial and temporal dynamics of ecosystems.
Fig. 2 Location of the monitoring stations network in wetlands Adaptation to climate change in river basins of Dauria: ecology and water management The key outputs of the Project are the policy-relevant knowledge on the natural dynamics of ecosystems which can be put in the basis of sustainable development of the region including sustaining globally valuable biodiversity in the face of climate change. Now we already know some general principles of climate cycles in the region and connected to them spatial and temporal differentiation of biota, the main factors and adaptations that help species to survive during critical multi-year periods. Monitoring results will guide the development of specic adaptation measures such as:
New protected areas planning and region-wide spatial planning to secure refugia and corridors for species movements;
Prediction of possible adverse impacts of water infrastructure and adjustment of water infrastructure schemes;
Development of allowable limits of anthropogenic impacts to improve environmental ow requirements in changing climate conditions;
Better planning of land-use and water consumption;
Development of other climate adaptation measures increasing resilience of traditional activities of local communities.
Protected areas network: challenges and opportunities Dauria International Protected Area (DIPA) was created by Mongolia, China and Russia in 1994 to protect and study ecosystems of the region. Further development of ecological network requires establishment of new protected areas, improvements and adjustments in protection regime and management of existing protected areas and development of explicit transboundary forms of protected areas.
Development of nature reserve network should provide for migration and breeding of species in all phases of region-wide drought cycle and preserve key hydrological features and all important refugia (fragmentation avoidance, promoting connectivity, and protection of climate refuge with especially resistant habitats). Riverine wetland conservation is an essential component in any basin-wide adaptation Programme and should rst of all focus on protecting natural refugia during most unfavorable climate conditions and sustaining environmental ows.
Network design also requires understanding interplay of permafrost, re regime, drought cycles, agriculture, infrastructure development in changing landscapes, with special attention to forest-steppe transition zone and freshwater ecosystems.
Specic suggestions are made in this part for establishment of new protected areas, improvements and adjustments in protection regime and management of existing protected areas and development of certain transboundary protected areas.
Climate adaptation and water management This longest part of the report starts with general overview of climate adaptation principles and challenges in Dauria, using water sector as its focus. The Argun River basin example is used to exemplify and analyze potentially unsustainable water resource use at basin-scale. Besides the basin–wide Argun River example case-studies are presented for interbasin water-transfers, hydropower, gold mining and border demarcation. Short conclusions are drawn on international policy and technical approaches to solving environmental problems in water sector in Dauria.
Climate adaptation is not a new theme for people of Dauria – Mongolian nomadic tribes were adapted to temporal and spatial change in availability of water and other resources due to climate cycle. However, the current mode of development, associated with stationary settlements/production facilities and linear growth in economic output is inevitably leading to severe competition for water and other resources at the time of drought.
Human induced “Climate Change” may make cycles even more pronounced and affect duration of phases, but is likely to bring problems similar to those already experienced by society poorly adapted to periodic drought. Meanwhile drought is nowadays perceived as “climate change scarecrow” and very questionable water engineering solutions are proposed to “protect environment and society” from climate change. Poorly planned human activities initiated in anticipation of climate change (including some adaptation measures) may drastically hurt ecosystem much earlier and more severe than consequences of actual global climate change.
Recent rapid socio-economic changes and loss of nomadic heritage in Dauria Steppe make ecosystems and local communities less resilient to naturally uctuating resources and to droughts and oods more extreme through climate change. Drastically different cultures, population density and unsustainable mode of economic development and water use in Russia, China and Mongolia, make it very difcult to build transboundary mechanism to protect common water resources. Meanwhile risks for wetland ecosystems and dependent population are further exacerbated by recent proposals for several inter-basin water transfer projects and other infrastructure in the Argun River Basin. Water management crisis is actively developing in all three countries – China, Mongolia and Russia.
The Argun-Hailaer, Khalkh, Kherlen, Uldz, Onon, Imalka rivers – virtually all notable watercourses of Dauria – are transboundary. The greatest potential threat is unfolding when competition for water among countries is made the implicit goal of national policies to store waters on national territories and this leads to demolition of transboundary wetlands of global importance.
Therefore, any adaptation to climate change in Dauria must rst of all occur through the prevention and removal of maladaptive water management practices that do not succeed in reducing vulnerability but increase it instead. Adaptation may be achieved through the use of best water-saving technologies and appropriate resource-use practices.
Here the countries have different comparative advantages and a lot to share. Mining seems to be one of the most fast-growing water-consumer among growing economy sectors in all 3 countries.
Argun river basins water crisis The Argun River basin spans all the three countries of Dauria and includes 3 large transboundary watercourses: the Argun-Halaer, Khalkh and Kherlen rivers, as well as the transboundary Buir Lake (Fig.3). While water use pattern in each of the 3 countries is unsustainable and has its peculiarities, China due to greater population and economic activity has the key role in this basin.