Semi-arid habitats are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Increases in temperature and decreases in precipitation, together with other factors associated with climate change, can have a significant impact on shrublands and semi-arid ecosystems in general. Some of the most relevant impacts are the following:
- decrease in biodiversity: climate change may lead to the disappearance of animal and plant species adapted to semi-arid conditions. Shrublands are an important habitat for many species and the loss of this habitat can have serious consequences for biodiversity.
- Increased frequency and intensity of fires: Increasing temperatures and drought may increase the frequency and intensity of forest fires in shrublands. Fires can significantly alter the structure and composition of shrublands, and recovery may be slow and difficult.
- Changes in species composition: Climate change may alter the distribution and abundance of species in shrublands. Some species may not be able to adapt to the new conditions and may be replaced by more tolerant species.
- Decreased productivity and soil quality: Climate change may lead to soil degradation, which may reduce the productivity and quality of soils in shrublands. This can have a negative impact on the flora and fauna that depend on these soils.
Sustainable management of shrublands is essential to mitigate the effects of climate change on semi-arid ecosystems. Some of the measures that can be taken include the promotion of sustainable agricultural and forestry practices, the conservation of biodiversity and the restoration of degraded areas. It is important that management measures are based on a sound understanding of the dynamics of semi-arid ecosystems and shrublands in particular, as well as a collaborative approach among stakeholders, including local communities, non-governmental organisations and governments.