[ASC-media] Amazon rainforests to burn as climate changes - Ecological Society of Australia conference start tomorrow

Jenni Metcalfe jenni at econnect.com.au
Mon Nov 28 18:45:38 EST 2005

Changes in climate will expose large expanses of the Amazon to destructive wildfires, according to William Laurance, a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and president of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.


"Climate change and escalating human land-uses such as logging, forest fragmentation and fires are a killer combination for the Amazon," Dr Laurance said.


"Huge expanses of the Amazon rainforest are already so dry that they're on the verge of burning", said Laurance.  "It just takes a little disturbance and a match, and you've got a massive wildfire."


Chris Stokes, also presenting at the conference, believes Australian savannas will also be affected by climate change.


"Under the influence of rising carbon dioxide levels, plants, such as savanna grasses can grow using less water for the same amount of growth," he said.


"Although this will be a positive benefit for growth of grasses, making them moderately drought resistant, it has the side effect of reducing their protein content".


"Reduced forage quality in savanna rangelands will be bad for cattle production, and will also affect native herbivores".


Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, and Director of Marine Studies at the University of Queensland, says climate change has been responsible for the loss of over 15 percent of the world's coral since 1998.


According to the Professor's research, the fact that carbon dioxide levels are higher than they have been for several million years is reducing the ability of coral to regenerate.


"We face the prospect of an earth without coral reefs and the loss of the many thousands of species that depend on these reefs.  This has major implications for Australia's future - especially in the light of the economic importance of our currently booming tourism industry." Prof Hoegh-Guldberg warns.


The Ecological Society of Australia Conference will be held at the University of Queensland from 29 November to 2 December 2005.



  Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (reefs) 07-3365-1156,  0401 106 604       oveh at uq.edu.au

Chris Stokes (savannas)         0417 774 687                                chris.stokes at csiro.au

William Laurance (forests)       +507-212-8252                             laurancew at si.edu


For media assistance: 

Please contact: Michelle Riedlinger on 0400 577 843, michelle at econnect.com.au or Jenni Metcalfe on 0408 551 866, jenni at econnect.com.au.


Jenni Metcalfe
Econnect Communication
PO Box 734
South Brisbane Q 4101

Ph. 07 3846 7111; 0408 551 866
jenni at econnect.com.au

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