Wildlife will need significant government help to adapt to climate change, and the vital habitat creation required will actually support our efforts to mitigate the effects, a major new report from RSPB Scotland reveals today. Such action must be made a legal reuqirement of the Scottish Climate Change Bill, and funds should be ring-fenced to back these guarantees.
Scotland has many vulnerable species which could lose their existing homes and food supply as the weather gets warmer, rainfall becomes more intense and sea levels rise. The new report, Climate change, wildlife and adaptation (attached), warns that measures to help restore and expand habitats are vital, and yet risk being overlooked.
Species already at risk include:
* golden plover and other wading birds on our moorlands and bogs, where warmer summers may reduce invertebrate food supplies for young birds;
* seabirds, with food supplies at nesting times disrupted by warming waters;
* ring ouzels - the mountain blackbird - are also struggling, with declines linked to warmer weather in late summer.
Clifton Bain, RSPB Scotland's Climate Change Policy Officer, said: 'The biggest long-term threat facing wildlife is climate change. Threatened species and their habitats are part of our tool kit for tackling the problem, by providing early warning of the problems, helping reduce the causes of climate change and offering solutions to deal with the consequences of the changing weather.'
'The fragmentation of habitats makes them less able to provide for key species, and exacerbates climate change. By restoring our peatbogs where golden plover breed for example, we can hopefully help counter the damaging effect of warmer summers on their insect food supply, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the damaged bog and help provide natural buffers to flooding problems; a win-win situation for all.'
Large scale habitat restoration and expansion is a key part of the solution to helping wildlife adapt to climate change. RSPB Scotland is contributing through its own conservation action on the 65 000 ha area it manages in Scotland and is working in partnership with government and voluntary bodies in ambitious projects such as the restoration of the Caithness and Sutherland peatlands, the expansion of the Caledonian pinewood in Speyside and native woodland around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
The report adds that at least another