Press Release - East Anglian Estate provides crucial evidence
Action is needed now to minimise the impact of climate change on food and forest production, says a new report launched today (30 August) by the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
Climate change and the European countryside
EAST ANGLIAN ESTATE PROVIDES CRUCIAL EVIDENCE
The report focuses on 21 large country estates across Europe, including Holkham in North Norfolk, one of four in the UK. It aims to obtain a more detailed understanding of climate change on these estates, identify ways of adapting to the changes, develop mitigation strategies and provide guidance for policymakers and stakeholders.
Estates can help mitigate changes by producing biofuels and biomass and by planting more trees to store carbon and for construction timber, but the EU and member states should formulate a coherent policy to encourage this, says the report.
Co-author of the report, Dr David Viner, senior climate scientist at the University of East Anglia, said: "We are already seeing the impacts of climate change on all of the estates we examined and our models show that this is just the beginning.
"Hotter summers, increased droughts and sporadic, heavy rainfall have huge implications for agriculture. Sea level rise remains a major threat in many areas, as does an increased risk of forest fires, as we have already seen this summer. We can expect species to move northwards with the loss of many native plant and animal species and we can also expect a continuing increase in pests affecting animals, people and trees.
"With summer droughts likely to become longer and more frequent, there are also fears for the Mediterranean diet, due to the effects of prolonged droughts on both olive trees and grapevine production."
The reports' authors warn that adaptation is not going to be easy and say that policy needs to be in place to encourage ways of mitigating the likely effects.
Co-author Michael Sayer, of the CLA, said: "Our climate is warming faster than previously thought and the impact on agriculture and forestry has been understated. Landowners are taking this seriously, but the EU urgently needs to produce a coherent policy. We should be encouraging landowners to produce biofuels and to enhance carbon stocks by planting more hardwood trees, which can be used as alternative construction material. Currently, infrastructure for processing biofuels is not in place and the price of timber is uneconomic."
Nicola Currie, CLA eastern region director said: "Country estates and land managers are responsible for the stewardship of much of our countryside and we are already committed to Carbon Aware Land Management (CALM), enabling farms and estates to do their own carbon accounts. Land managers need the support and guidance to make much-needed changes to their techniques and work – as this report shows, they need it soon."
David Milliband, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs offered his support for the report. "Climate change is a critical matter facing all of us today. Land managers truly have a unique role in combating climate change because they offer the possibilities of storing carbon in soil and trees and in supplying carbon-saving renewable energy and building materials. I am therefore delighted that the Country Land and Business Association and the University of East Anglia have engaged with other organisations to conduct this study. It is an important initiative and the report contains a great deal of detailed information at ground level," he said.
Holkham, Norfolk: Home to one of the first English agriculturalists, Thomas Coke, Earl of Leicester (1752-1842), who introduced wheat cultivation to the area. Future cereal production at Holkham is threatened by spring droughts, so the estate has constructed a winter-storage reservoir. As a coastal estate, Holkham is also at risk of sea level rise. A tidal surge on the scale of 1953 would by 2080 surround Holkham Hall on three sides. The estate is successfully protecting eroded dune faces and encouraging dune stabilisation by marram grass and pines. Its owner, Viscount Coke, has set a target for reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 25%.
Size: 10,189 hectares.
Uses: Agriculture, forestry and woodland, sporting, tourism and leisure.
Projected temperature rise for Holkham by 2080: 3.6°C
Temperature: Observed decadal average annual temperature rise: 0.7°C
Precipitation: annual average 6% higher 1991-2000 than1961-1990 average – but reductions during February to June and increases during October and November.
How estates can adapt to climate change or mitigate its effects
For further information or to arrange interviews:
Viscount Coke, Holkham Estate 01328 710227
Michael Sayer, CLA 01603 872268
Annie Ogden, UEA Press Office 01603 592764 or
Nicola Currie, CLA eastern region 01284 789201
Sally Smith, CLA PR eastern region 01553 764422 Mobile: 07729 448046
Mel Capper CLA 020 7235 0511.
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