Climate change

Bushmeat issues are interlinked to climate change issues in different ways. First, climate change may have direct impact on certain bushmeat species or indirect impacts via the disruption of local livelihoods, which could ultimately affect bushmeat species. On the other hand, over-harvesting of bushmeat species may contribute to increased emissions from forest degradation and indirectly impact on climate change. Bushmeat is, therefore, taken into consideration in adaptation and mitigation strategies.

How may climate change affect bushmeat species?

Climate change will have diverse indirect and direct effects on wildlife depending on the characteristics of the species and severity of changes. Effects described to date include shifts in species distributions (often along elevational gradients) changes in the timing periodic plant and animal life cycle events; decoupling of coevolved interactions (such as plant–pollinator relationships); effects on demographic rates (such as survival and fecundity), reductions in population size (especially for boreal or montane species); extinction or extirpation of range-restricted or isolated species and populations; direct loss of habitat due to sea-level rise, increased fire frequency, bark beetle outbreaks, altered weather patterns, glacial recession, and direct warming of habitats (such as mountain streams); increased spread of wildlife diseases, parasites, and zoonoses; increased populations of species that are direct competitors of focal species for conservation efforts; and increased spread of invasive or non-native species, including plants, animals, and pathogens.

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How can the unsustainable use of bushmeat ultimately impact climate change?

Forests currently contribute about 15%-17% of global carbon emissions when deforested or degraded. Forests could, over decades, lose carbon stocks through the ripple effects of bushmeat hunting on species interactions and their direct relationship to forest processes. The "empty forest syndrome" is a term often used to refer to as "defaunation," or the decrease in wildlife biomass in over-hunted forests.

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How is bushmeat integrated in current climate change mitigation and adaptation measures?

This section reviews the way bushmeat and wildlife is integrated in current strategies to mitigate (e.g., REDD+) or adapt to climate change.

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Further reading

Brodie, J.F., Gibbs, H.K., 2009. Bushmeat Hunting As Climate Threat. Science 326, 364-365.

Bunker, D.E., DeClerck, F., Bradford, J.C., Colwell, R.K., Perfecto, I., Phillips, O.L., Sankaran, M., Naeem, S., 2005. Species loss and aboveground carbon storage in a tropical forest. Science 310, 1029-1031.

Hinsley A., Entwistle A. and Pio D. V. 2014. Does the long-term success of REDD+ also depend on biodiversity?. Oryx, available on CJ02014. doi: 10.1017/S0030605314000507.

Kaeslin, E., Redmond, I & Dudley N (Eds). 2012. Wildlife in a changing climate. FAO Forestry Paper 167. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome.

Mawdsley, J. R., O’Malley, R. and Ojima, D. S. (2009), A Review of Climate-Change Adaptation Strategies for Wildlife Management and Biodiversity Conservation. Conservation Biology, 23: 1080–1089. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01264.x

Nadkarni M. and Kuehl Y. 2013. Forests beyond trees: NTFPs as tools for climate change mitigation and adaptation International Network for Bamboo and Rattan – INBAR. Working Paper No. 74. Available in:

Robinson R. A., Crick H. Q. P., Learmonth J. A., Maclean I. M. D., Thomas C. D., Bairlein F., Forchhammer M. C., Francis C. M., Gill J. A., Godley B. J., Harwood J., Hays G. C., Huntley B., Hutson A. M., Pierce G. J., Rehfisch M. M., Sims D. W., Begoña-Santos M., Sparks T. H., Stroud D. A. and Visser, M. E. 2009. Travelling through a warming world: climate change and migratory species. Endangered Species Research 7:87-99.

Youssoufa, M. B.; Sonwa, D. J.; Tiani, A. M. 2014. Adapting the Congo Basin forests management to climate change: Linkages among biodiversity, forest loss, and human well-being. Forest Policy and Economics 50:1-10.


last updated:  Wednesday, March 18, 2015