Impact on biodiversity

Peat Moorland (Whitfield Benson – YDNPA)

Climate change models predict different outcomes for biodiversity. It it is impossible to be certain about the exact impacts that will be experienced. This is because interactions between different species, and between species and the habitats they occupy are so complex.

General impacts

However, there are some general impacts that are likely to affect species and habitats in the National Park:

  • extensive areas of moorland containing important areas of upland heath and blanket and raised bog being affected by drier conditions, leading to peat shrinkage, and affecting the potential of these areas for carbon storage.
  • more incidences of drought in upland hay meadows with habitats changing in structure, and an increase in more drought-tolerant species.
  • changes to ground water resources and springs affecting species such as bird’s eye primrose, rigid buckler fern and globeflower, which rely on lime-enriched conditions.
  • changes in the range for species to thrive – for example, species such as Arctic Juniper, which currently reaches its southern limit in the National Park, retreating northwards, and an increased prevalence of non-native species and southerly species that are no longer confined to their existing range.
  • in drier summers, increased biological respiration and lower dissolved oxygen content in streams affecting species such as white clawed crayfish; aquatic moss; liverworts and stonefly.

Work to minimise impact

The Yorkshire Peat Partnership has a crucial role to play in reversing the trend of blanket bog drying. Other work underway includes mapping the best opportunities to strengthen existing habitats, as well as work with farmers through the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.