A study was conducted to assess how well climate changes can help to conserve and restore Garcinia kola Heckel in the Protected Area Network (PAN) and in urban areas in Benin. To achieve this, occurrence data from GBIF was used and the environmental data from AfriClim was used in order to model the species’ potential habitat under current and future climates. The maximum entropy modeling approach of MaxEnt was used with scenarios RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 for future predictions. Geographic information systems were used to establish the high confidence prediction areas (HCPA) for G. kola. Gap analysis was performed throughout PAN and municipalities with regard to the HCPA. Considering the climate envelop, results revealed that climate change prooved to have only positive consequences on the distribution of the species. Moreover, considering the HCPA, the percentage of municipalities that were suitable for the species is far above the percentage of PAN that was predicted as suitable (7.44% versus 0.93%). RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 indicated respectively 3.00 and 6.27% of PAN as positive climate change impact zones. As for the municipalities, it was respectively 13.60 and 17.60% of the total municipalities areas. Therefore, it is not worth relying only on PAN to conserve and restore the species, rather urban forestry and reforestation in PAN may be key actions to save this genetic resource. Further studies with regard to introduction of G. kola in urban areas and its use for reforestation are compulsory.
Key words: Garcinia kola, Urbanization, climate change, medicinal woody plants, biodiversity conservation.
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