Our climate is changing.
Climate change is bringing higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and rising sea levels. Less rainfall means that some habitats will dry out more in summer; peatlands may stop storing carbon and providing special habitats for wildlife. More rainfall at other times means that habitats may flood more often, or land may erode, washing nutrients into rivers or lochs. Warmer temperatures can mean that species are no longer adapted to where they live; and new pests and diseases may begin to appear.
So how will nature cope with climate change, alongside the other pressures we all pile upon it, such as land use change and pollution? Nature has always responded to a changing environment but the speed of these changes, combined with other pressures, means that nature is facing a big challenge.
So what can we do to help nature adapt? How can we help to keep ecosystems healthy and resilient? We’ve come up with eight Climate change adaptation principles:
1. Reduce other pressures on ecosystems, habitats and species
2. Make space for natural processes
3. Enhance opportunities for species to disperse
4. Improve habitat management
5. Enhance habitat diversity
6. Take an adaptive approach to land and conservation management
7. Plan for habitat change
8. Consider translocation of species
These principles are guiding the actions we take to help Scotland’s habitats and ecosystems adapt to climate change. For each one we’ve developed a case study to show how the principles work in practice. The case studies all focus on one of our National Nature Reserves and show a rich variety of management measures which help nature adapt to a changing climate.
Restoration of a raised bog at Blawhorn Moss NNR in West Lothian has created a healthier bog habitat which should store carbon for many years to come; and cleaning up the pollution in Loch Leven has resulted in a more resilient loch, and a better place for people to enjoy quality habitats for wildlife, as well as reduced water treatment costs.
Most recently, we have considered what action we can take to help Caledonian pine forests withstand the effects of climate change – although we’re still unsure what those effects might be. Our National Nature Reserves have great stories to tell about how nature can adapt to climate change with careful management, so we’ll be publishing more case studies soon.
If you manage land, water or wildlife, you can help nature adapt by applying the same principles to your work. And of course we can all help to make a difference – by providing space for wildlife in our gardens, volunteering in parks and local nature reserves, or thinking about how our actions impact on nature.
You can find all of these case studies and more information about our work to help nature adapt to climate change on our website.