Severe winters may be helping our wildlife

January 2011

Severe winters may be helping our wildlife
Heavy snow on the descent down Winhill Pike (Win Hill) in The Peak District National Park
Photo: Dorsal Finn

A return to more 'traditional' weather in the UK has helped our wildlife thrive during the last year.

Many of us have not enjoyed the past month or so when the UK has experienced record low temperatures coupled with heavy snow and ice. However, conservationists working for the National Trust have reported that the last year has seen British wildlife largely flourish.

Matthew Oates, a Nature Conservation Advisor has been speaking recently about a Trust survey looking at the effect of the weather during 2010 on our wildlife.

"For the first time in a generation we have experienced a traditional year of weather and our wildlife has mostly responded favourably."

"A cold winter enabled wildlife to hibernate properly while a warm spring and early summer created ideal conditions for insects and led to bumper autumn berry crops in our orchards, woods and hedgerows."

Climatologists and environmentalists have for several years been warning that rapid changes in rainfall and temperature will affect many animal and plant species throughout the UK who may not be able to adapt quickly enough to cope with the disappearance of their traditional habitats.

This year the National Trust survey has shown that there have been more winners than losers. Several native endangered species such as the heath fritillary butterfly on Exmoor, netted carpet moth in Cumbria and the Farne Island puffins have all had a good year. Flowers too enjoyed the late Spring and early Summer when dry weather reduced the competition from usually vigorous grasses.

Other encouraging signs highlighted in the survey include:

There is undoubtedly more winter still to come - so if you're planning on enjoying the outdoors (including our flora and fauna!), have a look at our guide on what to wear for winter walking.


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