Allowing for human socioeconomic impacts in the conservation of plants under climate change
The impact of climate change on conservation planning is affected by the availability of data (especially in data-sparse countries) and socioeconomic impacts. We build models using MaxEnt for Egyptian medicinal plants as a model system, projecting them to different future times under two IPCC 4th assessment emission scenarios (A2a and B2a) assuming unlimited and no dispersal. We compare the effect of two indices of socioeconomic activity [Human Influence Index (HII) and human population density/km2] as cost layers in spatial prioritization for conservation using zonation. We assess the efficacy of Egypt's network of Protected Areas (PAs) by comparing the predicted conservation value inside and outside each PA under the various scenarios. The results show that there are many locations in Egypt (the main cities, agricultural land, coastal areas) that are highly ranked for conservation before human socioeconomic impacts are included. The HII had a stronger impact than using human population density. The PA value excess (inside–outside) varied significantly with the type of cost and dispersal, but not with climate-change scenario or Zonation settings. We conclude that human socioeconomic impacts add new scope and insights for future conservation; and conservation planning without consideration of such impacts cannot be complete.