Freak UK weather wreaking havoc on wildlife, warns National Trust

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • COP26
    COP26
Cliff fall on the south Dorset coast in April 2021 (National Trust Images/John Mille)
Cliff fall on the south Dorset coast in April 2021 (National Trust Images/John Mille)

Freak UK weather events including cliff-falls and wildfires are starting to impact the nation’s wildlife, the National Trust has warned.

Climate change has been blamed for creating a “new normal” of extreme weather events and natural disasters as the charity revealed it has to step up its conversation work.

Looking back at 2021, the charity said a dry March and even drier April saw wildfires across the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland and Marsden Moor in Yorkshire which devastated two square miles of moorland respectively.

Fire broke out on Marsden Moor in April 2021. (Victoria Holland)
Fire broke out on Marsden Moor in April 2021. (Victoria Holland)

Both areas lost a diverse range of plants and declining bird species were affected - such as skylark, meadow pipit and snipe - as well as other wildlife including the Irish hare and mountain hare.

On the Dorset coast, a substantial 300m cliff fall in April - the largest for 60 years on this stretch of coastline – was caused by prolonged periods of dry weather as well as rain and erosion by the sea over several years.

It undermined the stability of the cliff changing the shape of the coastline forever.

Aerial view of the devastation caused by storm Arwen at Bodnant garden in North Wales. (Paul Harris)
Aerial view of the devastation caused by storm Arwen at Bodnant garden in North Wales. (Paul Harris)

Storm Arwen caused uprooting of significant trees in northern parts of the country.

Ben McCarthy, head of nature conservation at the National Trust, told Sky News: “Climate change is making some forms of extreme weather events the new normal. Heatwaves and heavy rainfall are becoming more frequent and more intense.

“What we’re seeing in the UK with the impacts of wildfires and severe storms such as Arwen and Barra, is how climate change is altering our landscapes forever.

“These extreme events are putting even more pressure on Britain’s wildlife, which is already in trouble with more than half of species in decline and 15 per cent of wildlife species under threat of extinction.

“Our nature is part of what makes the UK unique and we must all play our part to protect it. The scale of the challenge we face is huge, but there is much we can do to heal climate harm. Isolated or small populations are the most at risk from climate impacts.”

Despite the gloom, some species have thrived in the changing conditions.

These include pyramidal orchids, bird species including common and arctic terns and beavers.

Mr McCarthy said the climate and weather patterns “are out of sync with the natural biology and chronology of much of our wildlife”.

Temperature-wise, a high of 32.2C was recorded at Heathrow airport in July and a low of -23 degrees Celsius was recorded in Braemer in Aberdeenshire in February.

The charity expects this summer to be within the top ten warmest on record, evidence of the long-term trend of rising temperatures.

For more information or to make a donation towards our nature conservation work such as tree planting or peatland restoration visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting