Professor Richard Corlett attended two consecutive meetings near Cape Town, South Africa, from January 14-19th, 2019, as part of the global project called ‘Spatial Planning for Protected Areas in Response to Climate Change (SPARC)’.
SPARC is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and managed by Conservation International and runs from March 2016 to June 2019. The aim is to assess whether climate change is a threat to existing protected areas and to suggest how they can be extended or managed to compensate.
The first three days in South Africa was the Africa Synthesis Meeting, which presented and discussed results from the SPARC project for Africa. The participants were mostly African climate scientists and protected area managers, but also include representatives from Conservation International in the USA and from the Asian and Neotropical components of the SPARC project.
The next three days was occupied by the SPARC PIs’ meeting, at which the PIs or their representatives from Asia (Prof Corlett), Africa (Guy Midgely and Wendy Foden), and South America (Derek Corcoran, representing Pablo Marquet) met with participants from the USA and UK to discuss the overall progress of the project and the final outputs to be produced, including Country Reports for protected area planners and managers, and a variety of scientific publications.
In general, progress has been good, but translating the science into action on the ground—as GEF expects—still remains a major challenge.