Climate change threat to bluebell woods, report finds

Climate change threat to bluebell woods: Wildlife including bumblebees and emperor penguins are also among the plants and species threatened by rising temperatures, report finds

  • WWF is calling on world leaders meeting for Cop26 to cut greenhouse emissions 
  • The charity’s Feel The Heat report warns that failure to act could harm wildlife
  • Bumblebees, snow leopards and emperor penguins also at risk, the report said

Bluebells, bumblebees, snow leopards and emperor penguins are among the plant and wildlife species threatened by climate change, a report has found.

Conservation charity WWF is calling on world leaders meeting for Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow in November to take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

WWF’s Feeling The Heat report warns that temperatures are already 1C (1.8F) above levels before the industrial revolution, and failing to curb global warming to 1.5C could spell catastrophic damage for wildlife. On current plans and pledges the world is on track for temperature rises of 2.4C.

The report highlights 12 at-risk species including in the UK where Atlantic puffins are being hit by more extreme storms and a reduction in their seafood diet due to warming seas.

The much-loved sight of carpets of woodland bluebells could become rarer as warmer temperatures lead the plants to bloom out of sync with optimum conditions, putting them at risk, the report said.

Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF, said: ‘World leaders must seize the chance at Cop26 to build a greener, fairer future – one with nature at its heart.’

The much-loved sight of carpets of woodland bluebells could become rarer as warmer temperatures lead the plants to bloom out of sync with optimum conditions, putting them at risk, a new WWF report said

Mike Barrett, the charity’s executive director of science and conservation, said: ‘This isn’t a far-off threat – the impacts of climate change are already being felt, and if we don’t act now to keep global warming to 1.5C, we will slide faster and faster towards catastrophe.’

Global wildlife populations have fallen by an average of 68% since 1970, and the report calls for action to protect and restore habitats from tropical forests to Welsh seagrass meadows, and transform farming and how the land is used.

This will help store carbon, boost wildlife and support communities, tackling both the climate and nature crises, the report argues.

It states: ‘The native British bluebell is already under threat from pollution, the destruction of woodland habitat through urban development, and the invasion of the introduced Spanish bluebell varieties that are less colourful and fragrant than the native flowers, but more vigorous.

‘If we do not limit the rise in global temperatures, climate change could make our beloved native bluebells only a countryside memory.’ 

Bumblebees are at risk from overheating and mountain hares in the Scottish Highlands are keeping their white coat camouflage too long as winter snow cover reduces – putting them at higher risk from predators.

Hippos risk losing their wetlands and will struggle in higher temperatures, while the Arabica coffee plant does not cope well with warming temperatures, low or unpredictable rainfall or extreme weather, the report said.

Global wildlife populations have fallen by an average of 68% since 1970, and the report calls for action to protect and restore habitats from tropical forests to Welsh seagrass meadows, and transform farming and how the land is used

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