Biodiversity & Climate Change
In order to develop policies to help nature
adapt to climate change, it’s important to try and predict how the
climate change will affect biodiversity.
A project called MONARCH has been set up to
bring different agencies together to predict the effects of climate
change on terrestrial habitats and species. At the cutting
edge of climate change research, MONARCH assesses which areas will
become suitable for different species as the climate changes, and
also tries to work out what other factors may help or block their
The Prince project is looking at the impact of
climate change on freshwater habitats.
A project led by DEFRA – the Department for Environment, Farming
and Rural Affairs - is looking at how climate change affects
inter-tidal habitats. This builds on the work already done by
the MarClim project.
Case study: Snowdonia
One example of the predicted effects of climate change on
biodiversity is the modelling work done as part of the Monarch
project on possible outcomes in Snowdonia.
This reinforced the threat to montane heath and upland heath
habitats as species spread from lower altitudes, dramatically
altering community composition.
Response: helping species to move
Climate change means that some areas will alter so much that
they will no longer be suitable for some species. These species
will die or move elsewhere. But moving is not easy if there are
fewer suitable places to go or if they are far apart.
CCW believes that a three-pronged approach to creating a more
resilient landscape. This involves:
- developing habitat connectivity
- landscape permeability
- adaptive site management
Developing habitat connectivity
It's hard for species to occupy new areas if habitats are
fragmented and isolated, as they so often are, particularly in the
lowlands. CCW aims to develop more links between habitats by
restoring some that have declined and creating new areas so that
it’s easier for species to migrate. For example, the Meirionnydd
Woodlands are being restored.
Other schemes, such as the agriculture and environment scheme,
Tir Gofal, through preserving wildlife habitats on
agricultural land help species to move across agricultural land
between suitable habitats.
Adaptive site management
Within SSSIs and other designated wildlife sites, the emphasis
today is on protecting the habitats and species for which the site
is considered special. With a changing climate, however,
management plans will need to focus on underlying environmental
conditions, such as hydrology. For example, managers of
wetland sites will need to develop further their measures to
combat increased dryness in summer.