Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation funded report warns climate change risk to animals

Animal species are at risk from the growing impact of climate change, a major report has warned.

The study sends out a warning that ‘time is running out for many species’ as temperatures continue to rise and habitat and food supplies decline.

The research, supported by the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation, calls for better monitoring to measure the vulnerability of a range of species.

The alert comes after the United Nations warned that the earth has only 12 years to control global warming before it causes devastation and widespread poverty.

There is growing evidence that climate change will lead also to extinction for some species from rising sea levels destroying habitats to shifts in the availability of food.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report believes that a comprehensive assessment of the vulnerability various species face from climate change needs to be conducted so that conservation schemes can be developed to save animals.

“With species around the world increasingly impacted by climate change, we urgently need reliable ways to measure their vulnerability – only then will we be able to identify the most threatened,” says lead author Wendy Foden, chair of the IUCN SSC Climate Change Specialist Group. 

“Climate change impacts on species vary greatly; this paper provides practical guidance on how to measure their overall vulnerability in a way that is thorough and comparable, from the tundra to equatorial rainforests. Understanding what makes species vulnerable ensures that conservation efforts are as targeted and effective as possible.”

Neville Williams, Trustee of the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation and member of the IUCN SSC Climate Change Specialist Group, added: “Many species are under direct threat from climate change and the UN report shows clearly the devastating impact the earth faces.

“We wanted to make sure that the danger it poses to animal species is fully explored and understood so that we can save them as well as the earth. We supported and funded the report as part of our commitment to animal conservation which stretches from our work at the park to projects around the world.

“The YWPF is proud to help fund this vital work.”

The report, backed by 18 IUCN scientists, featured expertise from across six continents, most ecosystems, from oceans to deserts, and a broad range of species groups, from mammals to plants and insects. Its findings will help researchers collect relevant data on vulnerability so that clear conservation strategies can be devised to neutralise the worst impacts of global warming.

“Climate change is increasingly transforming the world’s natural systems, and we need to be able to accurately predict how this will play out in order to prepare for the consequences. Thorough climate change vulnerability assessments are crucial to ensuring we are as prepared as we can be for the dramatic changes that are anticipated,” said Sandeep Sengupta, Global Coordinator of IUCN’s Climate Change Portfolio.

The report was published in the latest edition of the respected WIREs climate change journal, which publishes work by leading scientists.

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