Climate change to affect migratory birds and animals
October 6, 2005
Climate change could affect and disrupt breeding, hamper migrations, and increase disease transmission in migratory birds and animals, a new report has warned.
The report, Climate Change and Migratory Species, was commissioned by Defra and prepared by a group led by the British Trust for Ornithology, and draws together broad research on the effects of climate change migratory wildlife.
It found that all-female turtle populations might emerge as the sex of turtle hatchlings is determined by water temperature; a third of turtle nesting sites in the Caribbean could be lost to rising seas; there could be reduced birth rates in whales, and birds facing the long flight across the Sahara would be affecting by the spread of the desert.
Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight welcomed the report, saying that it would inform new policies and programmes to help adapt to climate change.
“The report is sobering. It shows very clearly the devastating effect that climate change will have on migratory species, in Europe and across the world,” he said.
“Because they rely on such separated and often diverse habitats, migratory birds and animals seem to be especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
“They are among the first creatures to show us the effects of climate change on wildlife – some of the problems they are experiencing now are problems we can expect to see in other animals in the decades ahead.
“This report confirms that as well as continuing our efforts to address climate change, we also need to turn our energies to tackling its threats to our migratory species and helping them to adapt to a changed climate.”
Mr Knight said that while climate change would be beneficial for some species, others were facing extinction.
Species found in arctic and mountain habitats, like polar bears, are under the greatest threat as they are already at the limit of available habitats. Unlike animals that can move to cooler climates, as these species’ current habitats get warmer, there is nowhere else for them to go.
The report found that birds like the chiffchaff are now living in Britain all year round, instead of migrating south.
The UK will table a resolution calling for more international research into climate change at the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species in Nairobi in November.
Humphrey Crick from the British Trust for Ornithology, one of the report’s authors, said:
“Our changing climate is already affecting a wide range of migratory species – from the Swallow crossing the Sahara to the albatrosses of the southern oceans – but this report shows that the potential impacts are really widespread.
“There is some scope for helping species adapt to climate change, but we need to find global solutions to help animals that swim, fly and walk thousands of miles each year.”
The full report can be downloaded from www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/resprog/findings/climatechange-migratory/index.htm.
HELP WILDLIFE ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE NOW, EU OFFICIALS TOLD
October 6, 2005
The EU’s top wildlife policy-makers were today challenged to “find innovative ways” to help wildlife adapt to the pressures of climate change.
UK Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight told the summit of EU Nature Directors in Aviemore that the world had passed the point of debating the existence of climate change.
“Our task as governments is to limit the extent of climate change by controlling emissions, but we must also acknowledge that climate change is happening, and we are already seeing its effects,” he said.
“We cannot view climate change as just another pressure threatening our wildlife – we need to act now to ensure our wildlife can adapt to climate change as much as possible.”
Mr Knight said that European nations needed to review their approach to conserving biodiversity at home and abroad, ensuring that global strategies were in place both to stop climate change and to adapt to its effects.
“We must ask ourselves whether our current nature policies and regulations are flexible enough to promote adaptation to climate change, and whether directives written in the 1970s and 1980s are adequate to meet current demands.
“Our nature policies in the future must be adaptable, they must be flexible, and they must be robust enough to deal with a significant degree of uncertainty and risk.”
Mr Knight said that developed nations could not afford to forget that efforts to help wildlife adapt to climate change must also consider social effects.
“You cannot blame people who are struggling to survive for taking whatever food they can find or for trying to make a day-to-day living from whatever comes to hand,” he said.
“Every conservation effort we make must ensure that it includes local people in their purpose and involves them in its operations.”
At the summit, Mr Knight launched a Defra-funded report that shows that migratory species and animals living in arctic and mountain habitats were already experiencing serious problems due to warmer temperatures.
Animals like polar bears and mountain gorillas, who are already at the limit of their available habitats, are experiencing significant problems because as temperatures rise, there is nowhere else for them to go.
Other problems are as far-ranging as the possibility of all-female turtle populations as ocean temperatures rise, problems for birds crossing the Sahara as it rapidly expands, and the decimation of krill populations which are vital food for creatures like kittwakes, whales, and penguins.
These are two modified news releases from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The original version appear at MIGRATORY BIRDS AND ANIMALS THREATENED BY CHANGING CLIMATE and HELP WILDLIFE ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE NOW, EU OFFICIALS TOLD