Climate Change

Climate change demonstration

Climate change is a significant threat to the UK’s wildlife. The Wildlife Trusts believe that nature should be central to both climate change adaptation (e.g. through the use of natural processes to reduce flood risk) and mitigation (e.g. through the protection and restoration of peat and peatlands to store and sequester carbon).

We need to restore healthy, Living Landscapes that help to alleviate floods, control pollution and help us cope with extremes of temperature

The world's climate is constantly changing, and in the past it has done so to dramatic extremes (think of the Ice Age). However there is now widespread agreement among scientists that we are living in an era of accelerated climate change, much of which can be attributed to increased human activity (for example through increased carbon emmissions from air pollution).

Climate change means that there are complex demands being placed on land for food, wildlife, recreation and development. Wildlife has adapted to climate change in the past but our modern landscapes - full of buildings, transport links and intensively managed farmland and fragmented natural habitats - present a new challenge to species. It is vital that we manage and use land sustainably, so it allows plants and animals to move and adapt to new conditions for survival as the climate changes. The Wildlife Trusts’ vision for A Living Landscape is working to bring about landscape scale restoration of the natural environment and adaptation to climate change, realising and using the multiple benefits provided by nature.

Protecting and restoring our natural environment and ecosystems is important in its own right, but it also produces a range of other services that can help people and wildlife to adapt in a changing climate. Flood prevention, crop pollination, carbon absorption, clean and healthy water sources – these benefits of our natural environment must all be considered and maximised as we prepare for the effects of climate change. Critically, we need to restore healthy, Living Landscapes that help to alleviate floods, control pollution and help us cope with extremes of temperature.

In addition, the nature reserves managed by The Wildlife Trusts protect sites that often have a undamaged soil and higher species diversity that other areas. The effects of climate change may change the species composition of these sites but their underlying value as protected 'reservoirs' of wildlife will not diminish and they will remain important sources of biodiversity.

Many of The Wildlife Trusts’ Living Landscape schemes have been designed with climate change adaptation at the forefront. At the heart of Living Landscape approach is habitat restoration and connectivity.

The Wildlife Trusts are working to:

• restore damaged and fragmented areas of habitat;
• recreate habitats and natural corridors and stepping stones in the landscape; and
• reconnect these habitats, including linking them to the green space in our cities, towns and villages.

Only by taking a strategic view, and involving local communities, will we be able to secure the survival of wildlife-rich places, and aid nature’s recovery in the face of pressures such as development and climate change.