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Climate change

The impacts of climate change on the natural environment have long been recognised, both within the UK and beyond. However, the natural environment also has an important role to play in helping to adapt to and reduce the overall impacts of climate change. Peatlands and wetlands absorb and store carbon; and coastal environments can protect us against the impacts of extreme weather events. The impacts of climate change therefore affect not only the natural environment itself, but its services, including services which can help minimise the impacts of a changing climate. 

Our work involves improving understanding of the impacts of climate change, both on biodiversity and the benefits and services it provides.  In preparation for the 25th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (due to be held in December 2019), we are undertaking analyses and evaluations to identify and test approaches to adapting to, and mitigating, climate change impacts, and the costs and benefits of such actions.

We:

    • Evaluate the benefits of biodiversity to understand how it can mitigate climate change impacts. In the UK’s Overseas Territories, we have undertaken studies on the value of coastal habitats such as mangroves and coral reefs in protecting the Territories from storm surges, forecast to increase as a result of climate change.
    • Advise on management options to mitigate the impacts of climate change.  As part of this work we have been considering the role of MPA management in the mitigation of climate change impacts. 
    • Inform policy development by understanding the consequences of climate change on biodiversity. Our climate change scenario modelling work allows us to predict the likely impacts of climate changes on species and habitats. This information enables policy makers to make informed decisions that may ultimately minimise the impacts of climate change on the natural environment. 
    • Collaborate and guide future research to address knowledge gaps and safeguard biodiversity.  In partnership with other organisations we are involved in directing monitoring work programmes from which we can generate trends in species distribution and abundance over time, providing us with a robust evidence base of the impacts of climate change.

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