Monday, December 14, 2009

British wildlife faces climate change devastation, warns Environment Agency

The Telegraph (UK): Rising temperatures and sea levels brought on by climate change could have devastating effects on British wildlife from salmon to wildfowl, the Environment Agency warned. The agency said the country's waterways could be hit by invading species, such as African clawed toads and South American water primrose, which spread disease to native wildlife and clog up rivers and streams causing flooding.

Iconic fish species such as Atlantic salmon and trout which need cold water may struggle to survive - with evidence they are already declining in warming southern English rivers and estuaries.
Bugs, which form an integral part of the food chain, will see numbers fall by a fifth for every 1C rise in temperatures in upland streams, the government agency warned. Rising sea levels could inundate salt marshes and mudflats which are used by migrating birds such as redshank plovers and wildfowl.

According to the Government's conservation agency Natural England, the UK's wildlife - from oak trees to newts - is already feeling the effects of climate change. Lord Chris Smith, chairman at the Environment Agency, said: ''There is a danger that we think of climate change as something that is happening in other countries. But it's not just polar bears and rainforests that are at risk.

''What we see in our rivers, gardens, seas and skies here in the UK is already changing and delays in reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions will lead to more severe impacts.'' The Wildlife Trust is warning of winners and losers, with iconic species such as hazel dormice and bluebells under pressure because of warmer weather which will affect hibernating animals and bring trees into leaf earlier….

Dormice eating a peach, shot by Julien 31, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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