Threat to forests

Published: Saturday 15 May 1999

global warming is threatening large tracts of ancient Caledonian pine forests. Coastal meadows, mountain birds, flowers and insects may also come under threat, and the Scottish weather could get wetter, windier and more miserable than it is now. This was stated in a report commissioned by the Scottish Natural Heritage ( snh ), a government-run conservation body.

It asked researchers at the institute of Terrestrial Ecology in Huntingdon and Banchory to look at what climate change will mean for Scotland's environment. The scientists estimated a 1.8C rise in average temperature by 2100, based on the assumption that there will be a doubling of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Higher temperatures mean that oak trees will gradually force out the Scot pine, which has grown on the Scottish hillsides since the end of the last Ice Age, the study stated. Red squirrels and other species associated with the pines could also suffer. Increased frequency of storms and a 46-cm rise in sea level could also damage the coastal shell-sand grasslands of the Outer Hebrides, said snh' s chief scientist Michael Usher.

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