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Biodiversity and climate change

The changing seasons and reduction in biodiversity

Have you observed any changes in the seasons and if so what changes have you observed?

When we conducted a survey amongst the 7500 families living in Yateley, Hampshire, UK, 75% replied that they had observed changes in climate and 92% agreed that local actions were required to limit climate change.

Their observations included warmer winters, more extremes in weather, hotter summers and heavier rainfall resulting in flooding. 72% of the responses noted that they had observed a decline in species which can be related to our changing climate. It is not only the changing seasons, but also the changes within these seasons, that will affect biodiversity.

Their observations include –

  • More dry and wet periods within each season
  • Hotter summers, warmer winters and more frequent storms leading to increased flooding
  • Autumn arriving later resulting in leaves on some trees until the end of November
  • Winters less cold and wetter resulting in less predictable flowering of native wild species

Early flowering of plants
A recent study has concluded that plants in the UK are flowering up to one month earlier due to global warming. In 2019, for example, spring in the UK arrived one month earlier than the long term average. The danger is that if plants flower earlier and the weather then gets colder and frost occurs, plants could be damaged or even die; for example fruit trees flowering early could then be damaged by a late frost. Such changes within a season will also impact food supplies for species as diverse as insects, birds and wild life.

So even a 1C rise in average global temperature is having an observable impact on biodiversity. Hence the need for each of us to consider how we can reduce our carbon emissions.

03/02/2022


Importance

Biodiversity is important because it comprises millions of species which link the smallest bacteria to the tallest tree and the largest species, the whale. Species have evolved over many millions of years and the variety of life forms comprising species from mammals from which humans have evolved, to plants, birds and insects. Species reside in ecosystems within habitats and changes to a habitat will often affect the diversity of species contained therein.

The importance of biodiversity is that our planet’s essential goods and services depend upon the variety of genes, species, populations and ecosystems. In addition, biological resources feed and clothe us and also provide materials for housing, medicines and spiritual nourishment

Loss

The loss in biodiversity due to reduction in species, is due to one or more of the following factors –

  • Loss of habitat due to conversion of land to agricultural use such as growing crops and grazing animals
  • Urbanisation due to an increasing population
  • Acidification of the oceans due to their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, the most important of the greenhouse gases which congregate in the upper atmosphere and are responsible for global warming
  • Rising sea levels which impacts wet lands and mangrove swamps
  • Lack of pollinating plants on which pollinators like bees and butterflies can feed
  • Deforestation due to cutting down of trees for use in constructing buildings, making paper and providing firewood for cooking; The disappearance of trees has also reduced trees’ collective ability to take in carbon dioxide to form their biomass
  • Clearance of tropical rainforests in order to graze cattle and grow soya and palm oil
  • Changes in climate resulting in increases in extreme weather conditions including drought, floods and high temperatures

Interdependence of species

No organism lives in isolation from other living things and each has its own way of life which contributes to the balance of nature. If this loss in biodiversity is not reversed then we could lose many species and this will impact the ability of other species to survive. The healthy functioning of all organisms, which constitute life, is the concern of the Biodiversity Convention which was signed by more than 150 countries at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro some 30 years ago and in which countries pledged to reverse the loss in biodiversity.

Reversing biodiversity loss

Each of us can do something to reverse biodiversity loss – these options include –

  • Planting pollinating friendly plants which produce nectar on which pollinating species feed
  • Creating a wild life friendly section in your garden like a pile of logs or a pond
  • Feeding birds in winter
  • Composting leaves, grasses and food waste
  • Grow a tree which provides a natural habitat for many species
  • Create hedges where species can over winter and communally
  • Convert grass verges to wild flower meadows to attract pollinating species
  • Plant trees along pavements and open spaces
  • Design a poster to encourage others to reverse biodiversity loss such as the posters below from students at Frogmore Community College, Yateley. UK

Biodiversity

Biodiversity

Biodiversity

 

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