The Peak District is renowned for its natural environment and biodiversity. Some of its native species and habitats are highly susceptible towards changes within their environment. Increasing temperatures and severe weather events induced by climate change will directly or indirectly result in habitat alterations and increase the vulnerability of animal and plant species. For example Sphagnum cuspidatum is highly susceptible to environmental changes and faces extinction in the event of severe climatic changes.
Impacts from warmer, wetter winters:
- Increased events of heavy precipitation resulting in erosion and the accumulation of silt and clay particles in rivers and streams.
- Increased prevalence of diseases and pests due to decreasing incidences of sharp frosts.
Impacts from hotter, drier summers:
- Lowering of the water table causes peat and blanket bog to dry out. Erosion of peat increases, the stability decreases and the vegetation fails.
- Land and soil erosion induced by higher visitor numbers, impacts species like heather, bilberry and grasses.
- Increase in wildfires as a result of greater temperatures and water scarcity.
- Loss of oxygen in aquatic habitats, making them unfavourable (due to higher water temperature)
- Loss of important natural carbon sinks such as peat, soils and plants.
The wildlife composition and diversity of plant and animal species will change with ongoing changes of temperature and precipitation. The National Park Authority are committed to keeping anthropogenic strains towards the natural environment at a minimum and are therefore taking mitigation and adaptation actions.
Find out more about the linkage of biodiversity and climate change in the Peak District.