In a report on the future of England’s countryside, Natural England warns that many of our treasured landscapes and wildlife will be seriously threatened by global warming. Rare species such as the bittern (pictured) are in danger of dying out as their habitats are altered irrevocably.
The Norfolk Broads will be flooded when sea levels rise, affecting species such as the yellow wagtail, the turtle dove and fish, which all rely on the fresh-water habitat.
The Shropshire Hills will lose species that are unable to adapt to the changes in the climate, which make food available at different times of year, such as the and migratory birds such as the cuckoo and pied wagtail.
The report claims that the Dorset Downs and Cranbourne Chase, both Areas of Oustanding Natural Beauty, will resemble Portugal by 2080. This change in climate will lead to drought, which will affect beech trees, and flooding in winter, which will threaten iconic landmarks such as the Iron Age forts of Maiden Castle.
Dr Helen Philips, chief executive of Natural England, says: ‘Our most precious species, habitats and landscapes urgently need to be managed with climate change in mind.
‘Anticipating how particular areas might be affected and developing targeted local responses will be a value means for us to understand how the natural environment can adapt to the climate challenges it faces.’
The Environment Agency has echoed this sentiment in a separate report on the Thames Barrier, which it claims will need to be modified or replaced by 2070 to deal with rising river levels.