By JULIA HORTON
Published on 10/05/2013 00:00
Some of Scotland’s rarest birds could be wiped out by the end of the century as a new UK report highlights “profound” climate change in the Highlands, experts have warned.
Ptarmigan, dotterel and snow bunting have already been forced to the tops of the highest Scottish peaks as global warming has shrunk the cooler high- altitude habitat which they need to survive.
Experts yesterday published a new report highlighting numerous accepted predictions that climatic conditions in the birds’ territory will have altered so much that within 100 years they will be squeezed out completely because there will be nowhere left for them to go.
The latest warning was made in the Terrestrial Biodiversity Climate Change Impacts Report Card, the first assessment of its kind in the UK bringing together research by 40 scientists to produce an overview of the affects of climate change on biodiversity now – and predictions for the future.
Environmental groups in Scotland, including Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) which helped to create the report card, voiced grave concerns over the affect of the changing climate on the birds’ niche Highlands habitat.
Professor Des Thompson, SNH principal advisor on biodiversity, stressed that “generations of study” were needed to get a clear picture of the effect of climate change on the Scottish mountains.
But he added: “From what we know, yes, there have been changes and, yes, they appear to have been profound, but we need further time to appreciate all the factors at work here. A 30- or 50-year period of study is in effect a very small snapshot but what is extraordinary is seeing how this habitat has changed over quite a small timeframe.