If you still don’t believe that climate change is real, you should spend some time in a National Park or Nature Reserve. There, you will learn that in the past few decades, bird and fish migration patterns, seasonal time lines of flowering plants, levels and temperatures, mating and eating habits of animals and the lives of indigenous populations and have all started to dramatically change course.
Here are five popular natural areas that have been the most affected by climate change:
1. Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile: According to Agrupación Medio Ambiental, a non-profit environmental partnership dedicated to the protection of Torres del Paine National Park, Tyndall Glacier, normally one of the largest glaciers in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, has nearly doubled its melting rate or “thinning” in the last 50 years. It’s not just that there will be no more stunning glaciers to see; the effect of melted ice has devastating effects on the ecosystems of glacial lakes and the surrounding green spaces.
2. Glacier National Park, Montana, USA: Similar effects on glaciers and rapid melt rates in the United States have been noted by climate change researchers at The National Park Service. Although almost all U.S. National Parks have been significantly affected by climate change (flooding, droughts, changes in plant and animal feeding, reproductive and migration patterns), the evidence is most dramatic at parks whose dominant features are (were) glaciers.
3. Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia: In the Northern Territory of Australia, 171 km south of the city of Darwin, lies the almost 5 million acre national park, Kakadu, a breathtaking UNESCO natural, archaeological and ethnological reserve the size of Slovenia. The park is home to many rare, endemic and endangered species and the significant loss of wetlands in the last 50 years is drastically impacting the animal and plant life.
4. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica: Considered to be one of the best managed national reserves in the world, Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest has nonetheless found itself in dire straits. For many years, scientists thought that tropical rainforests were not as affected by climate change as, for example, glacial areas, but in recent years, clouds are forming higher, drying out some of the habitat and causing changes in flora and fauna. This has caused animal and plant populations to migrate or die off, unable to adjust quickly enough to the rapid changes to their environment.
5. African Wildlife Reserves: In addition to climate change, African nations have to deal with widespread poverty, lack of education and social support in rural communities, warfare, corrupt governments, illegal poaching, “slash and burn” methods of agriculture and the huge impact of the wildlife tourism industry. The African Wildlife Reserves and National Parks are some of the most delicately balanced, yet hardest hit areas on the continent. The temperature increases and changing levels of rainfall have led to water shortages that have already severely affected animal migration and plant growth.
Writers: Simone Cannon de Bastardo and Luis Rafael Bastardo Arjona are The Traveling Bastards, They met while traveling in South America, fell in love, got married and have been happily traveling and blogging about their adventures on the Traveling Bastards Travel and Food Blog.
Image Source: PatrickSmithPhotography