Britain’s climate zones are shifting by up to five kilometres a year because of rising temperatures – with potentially catastrophic impacts for wildlife, says a new report by Rewilding Britain.
The shift – due to human-caused climate heating, and hundreds of times faster than the country’s natural climate warming at the end of the last ice age – is set to outpace many species’ ability to adapt and adjust their ranges.
But Rewilding Britain’s research also shows that a massive increase in restoring and connecting species-rich habitats across at least 30 percent of Britain’s land and sea by 2030 could help save a fifth of species from climate-driven habitat loss, decline or extinction.
The charity is calling for the creation of core rewilding areas across at least five percent of Britain, with a rich mosaic of nature-friendly land and marine uses across another 25 percent of the country.
“Nature is our life support system and it’s at risk. We urgently need to kick-start a new era of rewilding and nature restoration to match the growing tsunami of climate heating and species extinction,” said Rebecca Wrigley, Rewilding Britain’s Chief Executive. “We can only thrive if nature thrives, so we need to think big and act wild, with radical change in how we manage land and sea to halt and reverse biodiversity declines, and tackle climate breakdown.”
Climate zones comprise an area’s temperature, humidity, precipitations and seasons – helping determine the distribution of species and habitats. Such zones shift naturally, but human-driven climate heating – increasingly recognised as the greatest future threat to biodiversity – is causing much more rapid disruption and triggering severe climatic changes.
The estimated shift in Britain’s climate zones is part of a pattern in which such zones across the northern hemisphere are moving northwards, and upwards in elevation, at an unprecedented rate. Rewilding Britain’s calculations are based on an analysis of existing research by leading experts.
Read the report here