Climate change nature loss must be tackled together, says report

Restoring native woodlands can help protect against climate change as well as boost nature

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The two planetary crises of climate change nature loss must be tackled together or neither will be successfully solved, a major report has warned.

Action to help natural habitats, such as restoring native woodlands or peatlands, can deliver win-wins for wildlife, storing carbon protecting against climate impacts, according to two international bodies.

The report was produced by a workshop of 50 biodiversity climate experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in the first collaboration of its kind.

The peer-reviewed report warns that climate change biodiversity loss have largely been tackled separately, even though both are driven by human activities both have impacts on each other.

Climate change is threatening wildlife by affecting habitats, the warmer the world becomes, the less natural systems can provide for humans.

At the same time, destroying nature habitats – from salt marshes along the coasts to wildlife in the oceans forests on l– reduces the natural world’s ability to capture human-driven carbon emissions protect against climate impacts such as sea level rises, storms droughts.

There are solutions that can help deliver benefits for the climate nature, including stopping the destruction of wildlife-rich habitats such as forests, wetlands, mangroves, kelp forests seagrass meadows.

Restoring these kind of areas is among the cheapest quickest nature-based measures to cut emissions, as well as providing habitat delivering benefits including protecting coasts, cutting soil erosion curbing floods.

Managing crop grazing lbetter, with measures such as conserving soils reducing pesticides, can save 3 to 6 billion tonnes of emissions a year, the report says.

A substantial increase in intact effectively conserved protected areas would also help, along with eliminating subsidies that support deforestation, overfishing too much use of fertiliser.

But some “nature-based solutions” that use natural systems to tackle climate change – such as non-native tree plantations or large-scale planting of monoculture crops for bioenergy – harm nature people.

And while nature-based solutions can help tackle climate change, they aren’t a substitute for immediate aggressive greenhouse gas emissions cuts in all sectors, the experts said.

“The lcan’t do it all. Sometimes nature-based solutions are seen as quick, convenient a cheap way to address climate change,” said Pete Smith at the University of Aberdeen in the UK, part of the group that produced the report.

“But we know we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions immediately aggressively in all sectors of the economy, to apply nature-based solutions will help us with that but it is not a substitute for that immediate aggressive reductions in emissions,” said Smith.

“We cannot avoid dangerous climate change without sucking up some of the carbon we’ve already put into the atmosphere,” said Camille Parmesan at Plymouth University, UK, another author of the report. “At this point reducing emissions is essential, but not enough, the best way to suck up carbon is to use the power of plants.”

In the UK, there should be a focus on restoring degraded peatlands natural meadows on grazing lplanting diverse native woodlands, to boost wildlife, absorb carbon create landscapes that are resilient to a changing climate, the experts said.

Parmesan warned that nature-based solutions need to be smart, while planting trees may be the right solution in some places, it isn’t always. She cautioned against planting “sterile” tree plantations that lack diversity, do nothing for wildlife aren’t resilient to climate change.

She called for planting of more diverse woodlands, which would be better for nature, but also store carbon better be more resilient to climate change. “I am very worried that the UK government is not getting it,” she said. “It takes a little more money a little bit more labour to plant a diverse forest, but not much.”

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