Report 427
Implications of climate change for biodiversity in the UK Overseas Territories
McWilliams, J.P
A report by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), Biodiversity: The UK Overseas Territories (Procter and Fleming 1999), summarised the major biodiversity features and highlighted many species and habitats of local and international conservation significance. However, potential impacts from climate change were generally not considered. A study by the Natural Resources Institute and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, The Impacts of Global Climate Change on the UK Overseas Territories, was the first attempt to consider the potential consequences of climate change for livelihoods and habitats in the Overseas Territories (Sear et al, 2001). For a summary of expected changes in climatic variables – eg sea level, temperature and storm frequency – see Sear et al (2001). The threat from global climate change becoming an increasingly important issue for the UK to consider if it is to meet its responsibilities to biodiversity conservation through international conventions and agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Critically, lack of data hinder the development of conservation strategies in the Overseas Territories (Oldfield and Sheppard 1997). The present review is part of a series of new initiatives to assess the implications of climate change for nature conservation in the UK and the Overseas Territories (JNCC 2003).


There is overwhelming evidence to show that climate change is being driven by human activities, in particular, those that consume fossil fuels and cause changes in land use The radiation budget of the planet is being changed as a result, which has been causing apparently unprecedented rates of warming.
During the 20th century, the global mean temperature rose by 0.6°C, the rate and magnitude of which are believed to have been the greatest of the millennium (IPCC 2001a) There is already a wealth of evidence to show that natural and physical systems may be affected by changes in climate (IPCC 2001b) Despite many uncertainties regarding specific consequences, there is widespread expectation that impacts affecting individual species to entire ecosystems will occur as climate change continues (Walther et al, 2002) There is a need to collect more data in order to improve our understanding of the specific implications of climate change for biodiversity.
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ISSN 0963 8091
Please cite as: McWilliams, J.P, (2009), Implications of climate change for biodiversity in the UK Overseas Territories, JNCC Report 427, ISSN 0963 8091