Documents to download

The UK Government has committed to halt the decline in species abundance and protect 30% of land and sea by 2030 (30×30). Devolved nature conservation policies include ambition for nature recovery across the UK to restore and create wildlife-rich habitats and improve existing protected areas (PAs). To achieve this nature recovery, conservation strategies have to consider the impacts of climate change.  The impacts of climate change to UK biodiversity include shifts in the geographic distributions of terrestrial, marine and freshwater species, disrupted life cycles, lower survival rates from extreme climate events and habitat loss.  

Conservation priorities may have to change over time to consider the impacts of climate change. Effective monitoring enables an adaptive management approach to re-evaluate management options over time when conservation objectives change. As climate change progresses, management approaches may shift from preserving historical or current conditions to accommodating new species and ecosystems and facilitating transition to a new ecosystem state, such as from freshwater ecosystems to brackish ecosystems as sea levels rise.  

A range of management options can improve ecological resilience to climate change. Ensuring existing PAs are effectively managed and minimising other pressures on wildlife can increase resilience to climate shocks. Protecting diverse conditions within ecosystems, such as maintaining landform features to provide safe havens for threatened species, such as dips and hummocks in grassland to provide cooler microclimates. Improving connectivity between and within PAs allow species dispersal and higher species richness (the number of different species in an area). Ecosystem restoration targeted at climate vulnerable species can lessen the impacts of climate change on them. Ecosystem restoration can also support larger species populations even if the primary objective is other than conservation, such as maintaining water quality and carbon sequestration. The deliberate movement of species to alternative habitats with more suitable climate conditions may be needed to retain the ecological functions, such as decomposition and nutrient cycling, provided by climate-threatened species.  

Key messages 

  • Climate change will have impacts on the survival of species, their geographic range, and the condition of the areas they occupy. 
  • Conservation strategies to achieve nature recovery will have to consider these climate impacts if they are to deliver stated aims. 
  • Effective monitoring would enable a dynamic approach where conservation priorities are adapted over time as species and ecosystems respond to climate change. 
  • Minimising other pressures on wildlife can reduce the potential impacts of climate change and facilitate species migration. 
  • Strategies for climate adaptation include providing diverse conditions within ecosystems for wildlife, improving connectivity between these areas, restoring ecosystems, and moving species if needed. 


POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including: 

Members of the POST Board* 

Malcolm Ausden, RSPB* 

Kathryn Brown, The Wildlife Trusts 

Richard Buckingham, Anglian Water 

Jane Clarke RSPB NI* 

Annika Clements, Ulster Wildlife* 


Simon Duffield, Natural England 

Shelly Easton, Somerset Wildlife Trust 

Rachael Fickweiler, Somerset Wildlife Trust 

Matt Frost, Marine Biological Association* 

Chris Gerrard, Anglian Water 

Philippa Gillingham, Bournemouth University 

Richard Gregory, RSPB* 

Jim Harris, Cranfield University 

Jane Hill, University of York* 

Nick Isaac, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology* 

Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley, Swansea University* 

Kate Jennings, RSPB* 

Tim Newbold, University College London* 

James Pearce-Higgins, British Trust for Ornithology* 

Nathalie Pettorelli, Zoological Society of London* 

Sian Rees, University of Plymouth* 

Malin Rivers, Botanic Gardens Conservation International* 

Daniela Schmidt, University of Bristol* 

Nina Schonberg, Ulster Wildlife* 

Duncan Stone, NatureScot 

Chris Thomas, University of York 

Clive Walmsley, Natural Resources Wales* 

Tom Oliver, University of Reading

*denotes people and organisations who acted as external reviewers of the briefing.  

Documents to download

Related posts