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How is climate change likely to affect coastal and marine ecosystems and marine turtles? What physical changes are expected? Which locations are more vulnerable?
Before you can start taking action to address the impacts of climate change, you need to understand how the species, ecosystem or area that you work on is vulnerable. For marine turtles, your target of interest may be the nesting beach that you work on, the nesting population, a marine protected area, etc.

A vulnerability assessment is useful to examine how your conservation target is vulnerable to climate change and which locations are most vulnerable. In this way a VA can help in setting management priorities and in developing appropriate responses to help reduce vulnerability.

There are many ways of doing a VA and there are numerous tools and examples available to help you.

What is vulnerability?

Vulnerability is the potential to be harmed and is a result of exposure to threats, sensitivity to those threats and the ability to adapt to changing conditions. In a climate change context:
  • Exposure is the degree to which a species, ecosystem or human community is exposed to climate changes (e.g. increasing temperature) and resulting physical changes (e.g. increases in storm surge or changes in precipitation).
  • Sensitivity depends on characteristics of the system or species that make it more or less likely to be affected by expected climate impacts.
  • Adaptive capacity is the ability of the systems or species to adjust to actual or expected impacts.
Greater exposure and sensitivity increase vulnerability, greater adaptive capacity decreases vulnerability.