Extreme Weather and Natural Disasters Affecting UK Wildlife, National Trust Says | UK News


Extreme weather events and natural disasters have rocked UK wildlife, the National Trust has warned.

Throughout the year, a handful of extreme weather events and unusual weather conditions devastated significant landscapes and coastlines, the charity said.

Very dry March and April saw forest fires ravage the Morne Mountains in Northern Ireland and Marsden Moor in Yorkshire, affecting 200 hectares and 520 hectares of land respectively.

While the recent storm Arwen caused the uprooting of important trees in the north of the country, at a time when ash dieback is widespread due to warmer and wetter winters.

Damage to Bodnant Gardens in North Wales. Photo: Paul Harris and NT Images

During the month of April, the The Dorset coast saw a major cliff drop of 300 meters – the largest in about 60 years – compromising the stability of the cliff and affecting coastal habitats.

A number of factors are believed to have contributed, including prolonged periods of dry weather as well as rainfall and erosion over several years.

Climate change has resulted in the loss of parts of the UK’s wildlife, but it has allowed some species to thrive.

Ben McCarthy, head of nature conservation at the National Trust, told Sky News that bird species, including the skylark, meadow pipit and snipe, are among those that have been negatively affected .

Beaver on the National Trust's Holnicote estate in Somerset.  Pic: Images by Nick Upton and NT via National Trust
Beaver on the National Trust’s Holnicote Estate in Somerset. Pic: Images by Nick Upton and NT via National Trust

However, wildflowers such as pyramidal orchids, bird species such as common and arctic terns, and beavers have benefited from climate change.

Mr McCarthy said the climate and weather “are out of sync with the natural biology and chronology of much of our wildlife.”

He continued, “So the species we know, like peacock butterflies for example, have evolved to emerge in the spring when they expect warm weather for them to feed and reproduce.

Many trees are blown down by Storm Arwen in Scotland
Storm Arwen brought down trees across the country.

“This year we saw the butterflies take a pretty big hit and we think it was because there was a cool spring but mostly followed by a very wet month of May.

“So you have this kind of cascade through the food web, through the ecosystems, which is a very big challenge that has a very big impact on our fauna. “

He added: “More conservation work is needed – we have to be brave and daring to take big steps.

“We know how to restore nature, the real challenge in the UK is that we are not doing it on a scale enough to offset some of these drivers of change, like climate change.”

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