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03 January 2019


Conservation groups call for stronger climate action to protect Scotland’s unique habitats and species.

Machair, Atlantic salmon, white beaked dolphin, capercaillie and golden plover among unique Scottish habitats and species at risk.

Scotland’s nature, from our seas to the highest mountains, is coming under increasing pressure from climate change, a new report published today [Thurs 2 Jan] finds.

‘Scotland’s Nature on Red Alert: Climate change impacts on Scottish biodiversity, 1 a joint report by WWF Scotland and Scottish Environment LINK, focuses on the impact our changing climate is having on species in five specific habitats across the country. 1

The report highlights species and habitats at risk including:

  • Machair: Rising sea levels threaten this fertile, grassy habitat found nowhere on the planet except northern Scotland and north-west Ireland.
  • Atlantic salmon: Rising water temperatures and increased flooding is affecting the Atlantic Salmon and the species they feed on.
  • Snow bunting:  A bird already listed in the UK’s ‘birds of conservation concern’, and found on the high tops of Scotland’s mountains, the Snow Bunting is under threat as rising temperatures lead to less snow, leaving it with nowhere to go.
  • White beaked dolphin: Found in the sub-polar waters of the north Atlantic Ocean, rising sea water temperatures are reducing the dolphins’ range, pushing them further North.  
  • Moorlands: Long term studies indicate that species diversity and vegetation of moorlands is changing. There is a visible drop of specialist species like dwarf willow and in addition to multiple threats, there is risk from climate change.

Dr Sam Gardner, acting director at WWF Scotland said:

“Scotland is rightly proud of its diverse and unique flora and fauna, but we need to wake up to the fact it is increasingly under threat from climate change. It’s not just polar bears that are under threat, but our beloved Scottish species and habitats too.

“Nature is on the frontline of climate change. Even small increases in temperature threaten many of the plants and animals that give Scotland its iconic landscapes, but that we also depend on for food and pollination.

“That’s why it’s so important the Climate Change Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament is strengthened to ensure that, within a generation, we end our role in climate change entirely.”

Craig Macadam, Scottish Environment LINK Vice-Chair said:

“From peatlands to pearl mussels, Scotland is home to many globally significant species and habitats. With these wildlife treasures comes an international responsibility to protect them for future generations.

"We need to give our species and habitats a fighting chance to adapt to climate change. It is important that we restore the health of our nature and improve its resilience to climate change impacts. We therefore need to set ambitious targets within the Climate Change Bill, including ensuring that Scotland ends its contribution to climate change, and backs these up with action to secure the future of Scotland’s wildlife."



Notes to Editors

[1] Scotland’s Nature on Red Alert

[2] Free to use images from the report can be found here

[3] The Scottish Government introduced the Climate Change Bill on 23rd May 2018 to the Scottish Parliament and referred to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee on the 29th May 2018. The Climate Change Bill increases the Scotland’s targets for greenhouse gas reduction from 80% to 90% by 2050.  The Bill is currently at Stage 1. Read more

[4] This report is being published as MSPs are developing initial views on the new proposals made by the Scottish Government within the Climate Change Bill. LINK members and a wider coalition of Scottish environmental charities are seeking stronger action on climate change than what is being set out in the current Bill. Based on the existing science on climate change impacts on biodiversity, more ambitious targets need to be set, including a net zero emissions target for 2050, and a 77% reduction by 2030.

[5] Authored by Tamsin Morris, the report is a collaboration between WWF Scotland and Scottish Environment LINK.

[6] WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, active in nearly 100 countries. Our supporters – more than five million of them – are helping us to restore nature and to tackle the main causes of nature’s decline, particularly the food system and climate change. We’re fighting to ensure a world with thriving habitats and species, and to change hearts and minds so it becomes unacceptable to overuse our planet’s resources. WWF Scotland is a Member organisation of Scottish Environment LINK.

[7] Scottish Environment LINK is the forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment community, with over 35 member bodies representing a broad spectrum of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society. LINK is a Scottish Charity (SC000296) and a Scottish Company Limited by guarantee (SC250899). LINK is core funded by Membership Subscriptions and by grants from Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Government and Charitable Trusts.

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