This Natural England funded project took place over three months in early 2022, and enabled Chris Short and Dr Phil Staddon to produce a rigorous assessment of the sensitivity of habitats in Britain to climate change. The assessment will be based on consultations with habitat and climate change experts.
Climate change is having ever greater impacts on natural ecosystems. Climate change and biodiversity loss are now commonly labelled as environmental emergencies. In this context, consideration of the differential impact of climate change on habitats is important to help prioritise our interventions if we are to protect our remaining natural environment, minimise biodiversity loss and maximise resilience to environmental changes including climate change. It is clear that not all habitats are the same in terms of their sensitivity to a changing climate, some, such as lowland calcareous grassland, appear to be relatively resilient, whilst others such as montane habitats are more sensitive to elements of a changing climate, in this case warming.
Following on from previous preliminary work by Natural England, this project by CCRI will took this earlier work to the next level and incorporated the latest evidence and expert opinion into a new five-point scale of the sensitivity of habitats to climate change, that allows better prioritisation of habitat protection needs. In addition, the issue of habitat status (i.e. degraded or not) formed a central part of the assessment.