Port-Cros MPA action plan for climate change adaptation
Thursday, July 18, 2019
For over 50 years, the mission of Port-Cros MPA has been to protect the species, habitats, landscapes and cultural heritage of its own territory, as well as working to understand the effects of climate change through various campaigns and research projects. The MPA essentially follows a scientific approach (2013-2022), which aims to define the needs of the National Park in the scientific field, while focusing on the lines of intervention with highest priority. This strategy also aims to anticipate how territories will evolve and how these changes will be influenced by companies, in an effort to provide appropriate management measures. Anticipation and adaptation to climate change are therefore essential elements of their strategy.
Climate change impact on the MPA
Increasing seawater temperature
Several activities to monitor sea temperature have been conducted in the territory of the Port-Cros National Park. In 2015, a new regional assessment considered specific regional features to make climate change projections. The projections show a 1.4 ° C temperature increase (in most optimistic scenarios) to 3.2 ° C (most pessimistic) across the French Mediterranean rim by 2100.
Rising sea level
The most accurate data in terms of scale have been collected in Marseille. Since the 80s, the sea has risen by roughly 2.6 mm per year in this area (GREC PACA). However, these projections only consider thermal expansion. Melted ice caps, which also contribute to further rise, should be also added. Furthermore, a network of water level sensors has been installed in the area of Port-Cros National Park (HTM-Net network), in order to gain better understanding of the coastal dynamics, such as traffic, the effects of upwelling and downwelling, as well as impacts associated with climate events (swells, surges).
Climate change adaptation strategies for the MPA
Vulnerability assessment: Biodiversity
Two studies were carried out to assess species vulnerability: the Posidonia oceanica and the white gorgonian Eunicella singularis (a temperature sensitive species).
The Port-Cros National Park has used a Rapid Vulnerability Assessment (RVA) in order to evaluate the vulnerability of two habitats: the Posidonia meadow and the coralligenous habitat. A 50-year projection has been chosen to provide a broader picture of both the effects of climate change and ecosystem adaptive capacity.
Results for Posidonia oceanica suggest that this habitat is moderately vulnerable to climate change in the National Park, which is due to a high risk crossover and a strong adaptive capacity. The main climate change stressors are seawater temperature, acidification and sea level rise, while other effects such as land source pollution and invasive alien species are worsening the situation.
Also for coralligenous, the assessment showed moderate vulnerability, due to an extreme risk crossover building from a combination of stressors, including acidification, rising seawater temperature, and algae blooms, with a strong adaptive capacity.
Vulnerability assessment: Socio-economic sectors
The Port-Cros National Park worked in partnership with the AIR Climat association, leader of the GREC-SUD (Regional Group of Experts on Climate in the South Region) to study the socio-economic vulnerabilities of three different activities in the Park: beach tourism, fishing and diving.
The vulnerability of the tourism sector is based on a possible decline during the summer season due to heat waves and mosquitoes, fire risks, development of invasive species or pathogens in the sea, as well as the feeling of insecurity (flood risks), and the declining interest in the landscape (drought/coastal erosion). Nevertheless, there are also positive effects such as the extended duration of the season.
The diving sector is mainly vulnerable to the decline of the quality due to seascape degradation and a loss of interest in diving (massive mortality of gorgonians / proliferation of filamentous algae). Here again, there are positive effects, including the extended season and the arrival of some exotic species, although the activity still remains dependent on the divers’ preferences.
The vulnerability of the fishing sector mainly depends on the evolution of fishing resources. Whereas the arrival of new species can be contribute to diversify the offer, the activity remains particularly sensitive to the consumers’ expectations and to the available income which, depending on the type of fishery, limits the investment capacity and thus the adaptation of fishermen to these changes.
If you want to learn more, please download the Vulnerability Assessment reports
The Port-Cros National Park has identified nine strategic lines:
1. Climate: to make the Port-Cros National Park a pilot site for climate change monitoring by deploying equipment for monitoring physical and chemical parameters, implementing rigorous protocols as well as processing and interpreting data collected in particular through regional, national and international networks.
2. Biodiversity: to preserve the natural heritage and anticipate changes at a Mediterranean level by pursuing the acquisition of knowledge. In its scientific strategy, the Port-Cros National Park has identified more than 50 survey themes related to climatic issues, which are carried out internally by the Port-Cros National Park or by partners. It is essential to pursue them in order to better assess the effects of climate change.
3. Coastline erosion: to assess the evolution of its coastline by developing technical and visual surveys, that help to adapt future management measures.
4. Fire prevention: to maintain the monitoring and management systems that prevent or limit fires.
5. Water resource management: to optimise consumption and improve availability, optimise recycling conditions, promote infiltration devices.
6. Health: to develop means for anticipating and reducing the health effects of climate change on human beings, flora and fauna by developing a territorial health strategy, based on the inter-Park guidelines.
7. Energy Transition: to develop innovative and pilot actions, such as conducting consumption diagnoses on the islands and testing renewable energies.
8. Socio-economic activities: to reinforce the knowledge and to support the partners in their adaptation strategies.
9. Improving communication and raising awareness: to both inform and raise awareness among the general public and partners on our current knowledge about climate change and implemented adaptation actions.