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People also need to adapt to climate change, professor tells conference on movement of species -

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ELEANOR HALL: Let's go now to Hobart, where scientists from 40 countries are gathering to discuss how climate change is affecting the movement of species.

As the earth warms, plants and animals are seeking cooler conditions by moving further towards each pole.

So how will it affect the human species?

Felicity Ogilvie reports from Hobart.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Professor Camille Parmesan from Plymouth University in the UK says around the world, animals and plants are moving towards the poles.

She says the species are seeking colder climates in response to global warming.

CAMILLE PARMESAN: For the species that we have really good data on, where they've lived historically over the past 100 years, we're seeing about half of those have actually moved where they live, which is an astonishing number given we've only had one degree centigrade warming.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Tasmania's east coast is a global hotspot for marine species that are moving south.

The ocean is getting warmer and that is encouraging species that used to live further north to move south to Tasmania.

One of them is the long spined sea urchin.

Associate Professor Gretta Pecl from the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies says it's becoming a pest.

GRETTA PECL: That's a species that eats kelp and sea grass and other plant material and algal habitats and basically turns regions into rocky urchin barrens, just denudes the area of all sorts of plant material and makes it not a very nice habitat for abalone, rock lobster and other fish species.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Professor Camille Parmesan from Plymouth University says the conference isn't just about plants and animals having to move because of climate change.

She says humans also need to adapt to climate change.

CAMILLE PARMESAN: A lot of people want to know why should they care about a butterfly moving from the US to Canada, and my point is that these are indicator species.

What we're seeing is that one degree centigrade warming is having a massive effect on wild plants and animals.

Humans do rely on wild plants and animals, whether we like to accept it or not, and humans also have sort of a restrictive climate space that they live in.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Finnish speaker Dr Tero Mustonen will share his expertise about how indigenous communities in the Arctic are adapting to climate change.

TERO MUSTONEN: We are in the boreal, so it's about 62 latitude north, it's a little bit south of the Arctic Circle, but it's in the middle of the old growth forest.

I live in a 220-year-old house without running water and with our animals and our fishery and my wife, Kaisu.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Now you work as a fisherman in your village - how is climate change affecting your way of life?

TERO MUSTONEN: The most visible changes you can observe are to do with the winters.

Usually our ice cover, which also means our winter fishery, should begin late November, mid November. For example this year the ice came, the stable ice, and safe ice came only sixth of January.

Part of our fishery is commercial fishery with winter (inaudible), so it means that one-third of our income for the winter harvest is gone as well.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Tero Mustonen says locals have adapted to climate change by restoring a lake.

TERO MUSTONEN: We are trying to do this in the villages so that the nature itself has the capacity to produce safe havens, if you will, and diversity.

And when you have diversity and restored land, waters and air, forests, you also have healthy people.

You don't have to be having a PhD to realise that, and that's our best defence when we are restoring, reclaiming and maintaining who we are as a people.

FELICITY OGILVIE: He says it's important that indigenous communities make their own decisions about how to adapt to climate change.

ELEANOR HALL: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.