Climate change is generally viewed as bad news. But, as Philip Bowern reports, the RSPB have shown this week that it is bringing new species to the UK.
No conservation body is welcoming changes to our climate through global warming. The RSPB, which yesterday released an important new report “The nature of climate change” is no exception. It warns in the introduction that climate change is one of the greatest long term threats to the nature we love and that it is putting out wildlife at risk.
But it also reports how wildlife is responding to climate change across Europe – and how species once thought of as rare or even unheard of in the UK are colonising our shores.
The RSPB scientists report: “Species are rapidly colonising new areas, as we would expect under climate change. Since 1900, at least 120 species have colonised the UK. Small red-eyed damselflies, first recorded in 1999, have spread through much of England; and spectacular birds like black-winged stilts and cattle egrets have bred in the UK”.
But it is not all good news, the report warns. “Wildlife is moving northwards and uphill due to climate change,” it says. “As the climate changes, wildlife tracks suitable conditions. In Finland, 48 species of butterfly have moved 37 miles (60 km) north between 1992 and 2004. Yet wildlife will only be able to track suitable climate if there is enough suitable habitat available. One third of Europe’s bumblebees could lose 80% of their range by 2100.”