Scotland’s nature is coming under increasing pressure from climate change, according to a new report that warns that the likes of machair and Atlantic salmon are among those habitats and species most at risk.
WWF Scotland, the conservation charity, and Scottish Environment LINK, the forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment community, said the country’s biodiversity stood to suffer “catastrophic damage” due to rising global temperatures.
In what has been described as a wake-up call, both organisations have pointed to a slew of animals and flora and fauna which will be adversely affected by climate change.
They stressed that existing ambitions to tackle the problem would “not curtail the impact” and said working towards a net zero emissions target by 2050 was “critical” to safeguarding much of Scotland’s nature.
Their joint report, Scotland’s Nature on Red Alert, emphasises some of Scotland’s “most well-known and iconic wildlife” such as capercaillie and freshwater pearl mussels faced an uncertain future.
It said some species, such as the Arctic charr, may not be able to survive rising temperatures, while others including the kittiwake and golden plover may lose their main food sources.
The 27-page report, authored by environmental consultant Tamsin Morris, also warns that plant populations of upland and alpine specialists like Alpine lady’s mantle will fall, with cold water species like the white-beaked dolphin at risk of being lost from the nation’s seas.
The report is being published as MSPs are developing initial views on the new proposals made by the Scottish Government within the Climate Change Bill.
Members of Scottish Environment LINK and a wider coalition of Scottish environmental charities are seeking stronger action on climate change than what is being set out in the existing Bill.
They argue that along with the net zero emissions target, Scotland should seek to achieve a 77 per cent reduction by 2030.
Dr Sam Gardner, acting director at WWF Scotland, said: “Scotland is rightly proud of its diverse and unique flora and fauna, but we need to wake up to the fact it is increasingly under threat from climate change. It’s not just polar bears that are under threat, but our beloved Scottish species and habitats too.
“Nature is on the frontline of climate change. Even small increases in temperature threaten many of the plants and animals that give Scotland its iconic landscapes, but that we also depend on for food and pollination. That’s why it’s so important the Climate Change Bill going through the Scottish Parliament is strengthened to ensure that, within a generation, we end our role in climate change entirely.”
Craig Macadam, vice-chair of Scottish Environment LINK, said: “From peatlands to pearl mussels, Scotland is home to many globally significant species and habitats. With these wildlife treasures comes an international responsibility to protect them for future generations.
“We need to give our species and habitats a fighting chance to adapt to climate change.
“It is important that we restore the health of our nature and improve its resilience.”