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The Effects of Climate Change

There is now an international consensus that climate change is potentially the biggest single threat to the stability of life on earth. Critical habitats may be lost; rising sea levels will threaten vulnerable communities and environments; extreme weather conditions will become more frequent; and the economic costs of dealing with climate change will accelerate if we do not invest now in reducing its effects. Trees will face new pests and diseases and where the trees are stressed by extreme weather conditions, such as temperature, drought and flooding, they may succumb more readily to them.

Against these changes, climate change may also provide some gains. New bird and animal species are likely to spread into the UK, and we will be able to grow a wider range of plants, including more exotic trees. Opportunities for outdoor leisure and recreation will increase.

However, the overall effect is likely to be serious disruption to our social and economic systems, globally and in the UK. Agriculture, land-use and nature conservation will be particularly affected with a marked increase in extreme weather conditions.

Next: Trees and carbon

More information

Below is up to date information on key messages from the Forestry Commission on climate change.