Countryfile Magazine - - News -

Na­ture can adapt to the oc­ca­sional year of ex­treme weather. But some ex­perts are con­cerned about the con­text in which such ex­tremes oc­cur. “We’re get­ting these wild swings in weather. Birds will adapt if you give them time, but if we keep get­ting these ex­tremes some species won’t be able to cope,” warns Paul Stan­cliffe of the BTO. But as An­drew Whitehouse, south-west man­ager for Buglife, points out, the ef­fects of the ex­treme weather are com­pounded by other el­e­ments. “What makes it more dif­fi­cult for wildlife is the in­ten­sive use to which we put the coun­try­side. Much of the coun­try­side and its habi­tats are dis­con­nected. Na­ture can cope with the oc­ca­sional lo­cal ex­tinc­tion of a species, say from an area of moor­land, be­cause nor­mally that species would re­turn soon enough from sim­i­lar habi­tats nearby. That’s not al­ways the case now. The more dam­aged the coun­try­side is, the less na­ture is able to re­cover.”

Stock­ing up feed­ers in harsh win­ters helps, ex­plains Jon Traill, and there are other ways we can sup­port wildlife. “We can cre­ate wild ar­eas in our gar­dens; put out wa­ter in the heat,” he says. “But there’s only so much we can do. We are try­ing to mit­i­gate things over which we have very lit­tle con­trol. Cli­mate change doesn’t just mean hot sum­mers. It means fluc­tu­at­ing ex­tremes of weather.”

A point that Gra­hame Madge, the MET Of­fice’s se­nior press of­fi­cer, un­der­lines. “This year’s swings of weather may leave a legacy in the wildlife record for years to come. You can’t as­sume that ex­tremes of weather are caused by cli­mate change, but a chang­ing cli­mate makes new ex­tremes more likely.”

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