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RSPB response to Committee on Climate Change report: Wildlife must not be overlooked

Last modified: 30 June 2015

Moorland managed for grouse shooting

27% of blanket bog have lost peat-forming vegetation due to regular burning

Image: RSPB - Jerry Wilson

The RSPB is urging Government not to overlook wildlife as the UK responds to the impacts of climate change outlined in a major report released today [Tuesday 30th June, 2015]. 

The Committee on Climate Change report highlights that the UK is heavily exposed to the likely effects of climate change.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, added: “We know that wildlife across Britain will be increasingly affected by climate change – we’re already seeing changes on RSPB nature reserves and in the wider countryside. This report on the early stages of the UK’s adaptation plans should serve as a wake-up call to Government about the natural environment. It shows that some progress has been made but there is still a great deal of work to do in order to safeguard nature and avoid the worst impacts on people and nature.”

Evidence in the report highlighted the poor condition of the UK’s upland blanket bogs because of intensive and widespread regular burning on upland grouse moors.

Martin Harper continued: “The impact that burning is having on our uplands is reinforced in this report. It shows that 76,000 hectares or 27% of blanket bog have lost peat-forming vegetation due to regular burning. There is little doubt this is one of the primary reasons for the poor condition of our upland peat and wildlife is suffering because of it.

“Swift and decisive action from Government is needed to deliver widespread restoration of degraded upland peat habitats.”  

Despite delivering better protection against flooding and coastal erosion to 180,000 households, the report highlights that a lack of investment into flood prevention since 2011 has resulted in more homes being at higher risk of flood damage than in 2010.  

Often wildlife friendly flood defences provide the best solution – such as creating natural coastal areas to deal with sea level rises or in towns channelling storm water into well designed green spaces – helping the UK adapt to a changing environment, whilst also benefiting wildlife. 

Government has clear ambitious goals in the form of the Biodiversity 2020 targets, which are part of international commitments to secure the future of wildlife across the planet. But the Committee reports that action in delivering these is very slow. These are only the part of the response that’s needed as UK wildlife faces increasing pressure from climate change, including the need to shift location to remain within areas of climatic suitability. 

Martin added: “We need to continue to keep up the pressure on Government to deliver on these targets. The promised 25 year plan for nature must not only seek to restore wildlife we have lost, but also help wildlife respond and adapt to changing conditions.”

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