The vulnerability of ecosystems to climate change is in many ways intractable. Humans may intervene to protect ecosystems, but the persistence of the very anthropogenic activities that initially threatened the biosphere often thwarts progress. Long before the relatively recent concerns about climate change, efforts to protect ecosystems confronted anthropogenic threats such as land use change, deforestation, resource depletion, pollution and invasive species. Against this backdrop, the authors examine whether and how conservation policy addresses the added impacts of climate change. Their findings are mostly discouraging. Adaptation of ecosystems typically involves enhancing traditional conservation strategies such as protected areas, corridors and ex situ conservation, along with the occasional novel strategy such as the deliberate relocation of species. Finite space and resources along with relentless climate impacts restrict the application and effectiveness of available strategies. While there are notable conservation successes, adaptation policy _ to the extent that it exists _ has not contributed much to these successes, and natural systems continue to spiral toward mass extinction and ecosystem dysfunction.
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