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Science into practice: Helping nature conservationists prepare for climate change

Natural England and the RSPB, in partnership with the Environment Agency’s Climate Ready Support Service and the Forestry Commission have published a new resource for conservation practitioners: ‘Climate change adaptation manual: evidence to support nature conservation in a changing climate’.  

There is strong evidence that climate change is already affecting wildlife and habitats; species such as the Dartford warbler and the bee orchid are moving further north and recent storms have highlighted the vulnerability of coastal and wetland habitats.

But we can reduce the risks of climate change and, in some cases, make the most of new opportunities for species and habitats.  The Climate Change Adaptation Manual helps land managers and conservationists to plan and take action to limit the impacts of climate change on the natural environment. This is a ground-breaking step forward in responding to the risks recently highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its report ‘Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’.

The manual is a hands-on document giving up-to-date, detailed, habitat-specific information for conservation managers to use, to prepare and respond to a changing climate.  It is divided into three sections, focusing on:

  • the key concepts for making decisions about adaptation and the impact of climate change on the natural environment;

  • climate change impacts and potential adaptation responses for 27 of England’s most important habitats; and

  • the relationship between climate change and the delivery of ecosystem services.

Andrew Wood, Executive Director at Natural England said: “Climate change has wide-ranging implications for habitats and species in Britain and for the way that the countryside is managed.  The Manual gives conservation managers and advisors access to the best available science to enable their conservation work to be carried out with climate change adaptation in mind.”

Martin Harper, Conservation Director at the RSPB said: “We’re already witnessing the impacts of climate change at RSPB nature reserves across the country – and we’re taking action to ensure we protect wildlife from these changes.

“If we are going to help threatened species adapt to a warmer climate then we need to act fast. We also need to work together and share knowledge and experience - I hope this manual will help us do just that. Science has given us a clear warning about the future and we have no excuse for not acting now.”

The Manual builds on experience gained from climate change impact assessments and adaptation planning at National Nature Reserves and RSPB nature reserves, together with contributions from a range of partners including the RSPB, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Wildlife Trusts and National Park Authorities. Potential users include nature reserve managers, conservation organisations, ecological consultants, local authority ecologists and those working at the larger scale in Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs), Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks. 

The Climate Change Adaptation Manual can be found on Natural England’s publications catalogueexternal link
For media queries, please contact Ellen Softley, Natural England’s Press Office. Tel: 0300 060 0213 e-mail:ellen.softley@naturalengland.org.uk

ENDS

Notes for Editors

  1. Climate Change Adaptation Manual: Policy background  
    The Adaptation Manual is a commitment in the National Adaptation Programmeexternal link, published by Defra in July 2013.  It is also a commitment in Natural England’s adaptation plan, contained in our report (2012)external link under the Reporting Power of the Climate Change Act (2008). external link
    The publication of the Adaptation Manual was a commitment in Natural England’s 2013/14 Corporate Plan Updateexternal link, agreed with Defra.  It was one of four metrics contributing to Key Performance Indicator ‘Continually improve our evidence base’ (KPI 15).

  2. Climate Change Adaptation Manual: Future plans
    Natural England and the RSPB plan to develop the Manual in future to give advice and support on individual species, as well as to update the habitat pages as new information and techniques come forward in this cutting edge area of nature conservation.

  3. Climate Change Impacts
    The adaptation manual focuses on the science and practice of climate change adaptation – how to respond to the challenges it presents.  The impacts of climate change on the biodiversity of the UK were reviewed last year and a summary report published.  The Terrestrial Biodiversity Report Card identifies a number of large scale trends and regional variations detailing how the UK’s terrestrial biodiversity is being affected by climate change. For further information see the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC’s) websiteexternal link.

  4. About Natural England
    Natural England is the government’s advisor on the natural environment. Established in 2006, our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public. For further information see Natural England’s websiteexternal link. Twitter:@NaturalEngland

  5. About the RSPB 
    The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations. 

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