Photo: Daniel Nepstad

Protecting places of global environmental importance such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest from climate change will require reducing the other pressures they face, for example overfishing, fertilizer pollution or land clearing.

The team of researchers warns that localised issues, such as declining water quality from nutrient pollution or deforestation, can exacerbate the effects of climatic extremes, such as heat waves and droughts. This reduces the ability of ecosystems to cope with the impacts of climate change.

"Managing local ecosystems can help maintain and enhance their resilience in the face of global changes. It is often easier to implement incentives for stewardship of the biosphere in local commons than in global commons, where the uncertainty is lower, and where positive results of management may be more visible," says Centre science director Carl Folke, one of the study’s co-authors.

Read more on the Stockholm Resilience Centre website.