Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Climate Change and Biodiversity

 24th May 2019


Change is in the air, not just at Somerset Wildlife Trust where many changes are happening at once with my arrival and the challenge of leading the Trust following 15 successful years under Simon Nash’s leadership, but in the wider environment. Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thurnberg have successfully moved the issue of climate change up the political and news agendas, while George Monbiot and others are calling for natural climate solutions to climate change mitigation.

At Somerset Wildlife Trust we are preparing to write our future strategy and obviously the issue of climate change is one we need to understand and address in the context of Somerset’s natural environment. So, what is the relationship between climate change and biodiversity?

The UN Convention on Climate Change and Biodiversity describes the relationship as below:

“Biodiversity is affected by climate change, with negative consequences for human well-being, but biodiversity, through the ecosystem services it supports, also makes an important contribution to both climate-change mitigation and adaptation.”

That feels a bit too full of jargon so needs some examining.

Climate change mitigation means actions to reduce or prevent emissions of green house gases. These actions can be technological; renewable energies, sustainable transport, sustainable agricultural practices or natural through restored healthy functioning ecological systems (woodlands for instance) that suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

Climate change adaptation refers to actions taken to adjust to a warmer world and reduce the risks. Examples of adaptation include changing building design, focusing on different crops with better change of survival, or preparing for rising water levels with flood defences. Natural adaptation methods improve the resilience of our ecosystems: well-functioning wetland habitats including making space for water on floodplains can provide natural flood risk reduction and planting trees in our towns and cities to provide much needed shade.

Can you see the common factor here? Whether aiming to mitigate against climate change (preferable) or adapt to a changing climate, investing in nature’s recovery at a landscape scale will have significant impact. Undeniably, climate change is already having an impact on many of the world’s ecosystems and species which will be the subject of my next blog. For now, we at Somerset Wildlife Trust will be thinking about how our future strategy can clearly set out how we can better work to protect and improve Somerset’s beautiful landscapes for their own sake but also to benefit climate change mitigation and adaptation. We will soon be asking you for your thoughts on this as well.