Scottish climate change adaptation programme 2019-2024: strategic environmental assessment

This SEA investigates the likely significant effects on the environment.

Appendix B: Environmental Baseline

Climatic Factors

The global climate is changing. Since the last century, the atmosphere and oceans have warmed, amounts of snow and ice have reduced, the sea level has risen, and concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased. Observed national changes in land temperature in Scotland have been similar to the UK average of a rise of around 1°C in recent decades. Annual rainfall over Scotland has also increased in recent decades to a level about 13% above the average for the early decades of the 20th century.[46]

Data on past changes in precipitation and river flow show an upward trend in winter precipitation since 1961, with an increase of almost 70% in northern Scotland. For the same period, the data show that Scotland, as a whole, has become 20% wetter. In contrast, northern areas of Scotland have experienced drier summertime conditions since 1961.[47]

In general, climate change projections suggest observed climate trends will continue to intensify in the future. These include:

  • projected increases in mean annual temperature by the 2080s for Scottish regions range from 1.6°C to 4.5°C, with central estimates between 2.6°C and 3.0°C;
  • drier summers and wetter winters;
  • more seasonal rainfall; and
  • increased risk of flood, drought, and extreme weather events.[48]

The key climate change pressures for Scotland as set out in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017: Evidence Report – Summary for Scotland[49] include:

  • Natural environment and natural assets – climate change poses risks to Scotland’s soils, natural carbon stores, agriculture, wildlife, and coastal habitats and seas.
  • Infrastructure – infrastructure in Scotland is exposed to a range of climatic hazards. Impacts on some assets have the potential to cascade on to others as part of interdependent networks. Flooding poses the greatest long-term risk to infrastructure performance from climate change, but the growing risks from heat, water scarcity, and slope instability caused by severe weather could be significant.
  • People and the built environment – there are potential health benefits to be derived from warmer winters in Scotland, but more action is needed to manage current risks to people from cold temperatures through addressing fuel poverty.
  • Business and industry – flooding and extreme weather events which damage assets and disrupt business operations pose the greatest risk to Scottish businesses now and in the future. This could be compounded by a lack of adaptive capacity.
  • International dimensions – climate change will impact upon water security, agricultural production, and economic resources around the world. These impacts can compound vulnerability in other countries, which can in turn exacerbate risks from conflict, migration, and human crises. The main risks arising for the UK from climate change overseas are through impacts on the food system, economic interests abroad, and increased demand for humanitarian aid.


Scotland’s rich and varied landscapes and habitats have been shaped by underlying rocks, soils, and landforms; our seas; and the Scottish weather.[50] Scotland is renowned for the sheer number of plant and animal species that can be found within its borders as well as the complex mosaic of habitats that support them. In particular, Scotland  is home to internationally important habitats that include more than 30,000 freshwater lochs as well as blanket bog, which covers 23% of our land area.[51]

Designated protected areas include 1,423 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), 51 Ramsar Sites, 153 Special Protection Areas (SPAs), and 249 Special Areas of Conservation (SAC).[52] The UK Biodiversity Action Plan also identified 39 priority habitats and 197 priority species that either occur or are known to have occurred in Scotland in recent times, which later helped to inform the scope and focus of Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy.[53] In addition, many undesignated areas such as urban parks and gardens contain a variety of habitats and ecosystems that are important biodiversity assets.[54]

As of March 2018, 79.7% of natural features on protected nature sites were assessed as being in favourable condition. This figure represents a decrease of 0.6% from 2017 and an increase of 3.7% over 2007.[55] Some popular species are in decline, such as the capercaillie, and another 65 Scottish species are considered critically endangered in Great Britain, such as the pine hoverfly.[56] Notwithstanding, other species are faring well such as certain butterfly species and otters.[57]

Scotland’s landscape and habitats are diverse in nature and range from uplands, wetlands, grasslands, forests and woodlands, the Scottish coast and marine environment, and the river system.

Covering the majority of Scotland, the uplands have some of the most extensive and best examples of near-natural habitats and wildlife associated with northern and remote parts of Europe. A third of uplands is bog, the remainder a mix of grassland, heath, bracken, fen, marsh and swamp, inland rock, and montane habitat. These areas contain an abundance of wildlife, including some species that can only survive in this habitat. Assessments of upland condition carried out in 2005 and 2010 found that the condition of the majority of features was favourable, although upland grasslands were a particular concern.[58] Later assessments carried out in 2014 show that the condition of the majority of features is continuing to gradually improve as work focuses on remedial action.[59] However, uplands remain vulnerable to land management changes, atmospheric pollution and afforestation.[60]

Scotland’s wetlands (including peatlands) support a range of plants, animals, and birds, the latter including species such as  common scoter, golden plover, and dunlin. They also deliver important environmental functions such as carbon storage and sustaining the supply of clean water. It is estimated that approximately 1,600 tonnes of carbon are stored in Scotland’s peatlands.[61] Despite their importance, eighty percent of peatlands in Scotland are degraded[62], hence the government’s objective to restore 250,000 hectares by 2032.[63]

Wetlands (including peatlands) cover large areas of Scotland where poorly drained soils, high rainfall, and low temperatures combine to create permanently or frequently waterlogged areas which support a diverse range of species adapted to these conditions. Bogs (a type of peatland) are one of the most extensive semi-natural habitats in Scotland and cover 23% of our land area.[64] Although relatively common in Scotland, blanket bog is a globally rare habitat. Scotland’s blanket bog accounts for 60% of the UK’s total and holds 4% of Europe’s peat carbon store.[65] The current state of wetlands protected for nature conservation (as determined by Scottish Natural Heritage’s Site Condition Monitoring Programme) was determined to be largely favourable (70%).[66] However, work remains to be done, as evidenced by the fact that only 49% of blanket bogs and 27% of raised bogs were reported to be in good condition in 2016, respectively.[67]

Key pressures on wetlands include land use change and land management practices, development, long-term changes in weather patterns, pollution, and water management.[68]

Grasslands cover a third of Scotland and have an important role in feeding cattle, sheep, and wildlife. Unimproved, species-rich grassland is one of our rarest habitats as much area has been improved for agriculture to encourage the grass species that are most suitable for livestock to eat. The best grasslands for wildlife contain short and long patches – a variety of micro-habitats for a variety of species. Birds are a good indicator of biodiversity in grasslands. While some species such as goldfinch and whitethroat have doubled in abundance since 1994, others such as kestrel have experienced substantial long-term declines (i.e. -85% below 1994 levels).[69]  Key pressures on unimproved grasslands includes the intensification of agriculture and the loss and improvement of non-farmed features.[70]

Forests and woodlands support a wide range of important plants and animals. By the early 1900s, human influence and climate change had reduced forests to only 4.5% of Scotland’s land area. These factors also altered forest compositions to the point that no woodlands in Scotland can now be considered truly natural. Since this time a huge woodland creation effort has increased our forest area dramatically, and in 2013 Scotland’s woodland and forest cover had risen to 18% of Scotland’s land area.[71]  Rare and threatened species are commonly found in and around semi-natural woodlands, but many have also colonised planted forests.

The condition of our forests and woodlands for wildlife is moderately good, and there are indications that it will continue to improve with sustainable management.[72]

Native woodlands are recognised as priority habitats and despite much being done in recent times to protect and enhance them, they remain at risk from pressures such as fragmentation, wild herbivores, non-native tree planting, the spread of invasive non-native plants and animals, plant pests and diseases, climate change, and atmospheric deposition of pollutants.[73]

Scotland has around 18,000km of coastline, with a wide variety of coastal and estuarine habitats that provide places for thousands of species to live. Scotland’s coastal waters are among the world’s most biologically diverse, hosting  plants and animals that vary in size from large charismatic mammals to fingernail-sized shrimps that inhabit rock pools.[74]

Estuarine and coastal ecosystems are complex and changes can have consequences far beyond inshore waters. The loss of living habitats such as kelp forest would not only be biologically and economically damaging, but may also be physically damaging. For example, on the west coast of Scotland, the loss of such habitats would lead to a reduction in physical shelter from prevailing westerly storms that damage Scottish coasts.[75]

There are currently concerns about Scotland’s inshore sea life due to pressures on their habitats and supporting food webs, and Scotland’s Marine Atlas’ overall assessment of species and habitats shows the poor state of marine biodiversity. Further, the overall condition of Scotland’s inshore habitats is declining. Inshore sediment habitats directly support particularly fragile assemblages of species that live on them, as well as provide food and nursery areas for more mobile and wider ranging species. Habitats within Scottish inshore waters are declining, or are stable but still of concern. For example, there is concern about their ability to recover from damage and return to a condition that will support all their associated species. Of the 10 areas assessed, no habitats are improving.[76]

More recently, OSPAR’s Intermediate Assessment 2017 revealed declines in marine bird numbers, the alteration of benthic habitats by bottom fisheries, the recovery of fish stocks in some areas, and fluctuations in marine mammal populations as the key trends characterising the biodiversity of the North-East Atlantic Ocean, of which Scotland’s seas are a part.[77]

Some seabirds that breed in Scotland are also in decline with nine of our most common species having shown sustained declines over the past 20 years. The reasons for these declines are complex and may be a result of changes in fishing effort (resulting in changes to food availability), climate change (altering prey distributions and resulting in mortality of some species due to extreme weather events), and the effects of non-native species (such as rats on islands).[78]

The impact of climate change on riverine species considered important for conservation is a matter of particular concern. For example, freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) may be particularly at risk. The size, duration, and frequency of floods are likely to have a detrimental effect on this species by removing the gravel substrates in which pearl mussels bury themselves; expected increases in maximum temperatures may also be damaging.[79]

To summarise, some biodiversity assets (species and habitats) could be at risk because of their inability to respond to changing climatic conditions. Opportunities such as new species colonisation could also occur as a direct result of climate change. Other indirect impacts on biodiversity are also likely, such as those arising from changes in land use due to adaptation activities.[80] For example, risks and opportunities from changes in agricultural and forestry productivity and land suitability such as warmer temperatures that may allow new plants to colonise on mountain slopes that were previously un vegetated.

Population and Human Health

Scotland has a population of around 5.4 million people. Its population density is among the lowest in Europe[81], although there is significant variation between highly urbanised areas in the Central Belt and rural and island areas including the Western Isles, the Highlands, and areas of Fife.[82]By 2041, Scotland’s population is expected to rise to around 5.7 million.[83]

Life expectancy has generally been increasing in Scotland over the last 35 years. Since 1981, life expectancy has increased to 75.3 years (males) and 77.1 years (females). However, life expectancy in Scotland remains lower than the UK average and is the lowest of all UK constituent countries for both males and females.[84] The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), which identifies small concentrations of multiple deprivation across all of Scotland, shows that the 15% most deprived data zones in Scotland are located predominantly in urban areas, including Glasgow, Dundee, and Edinburgh.[85]

The potential risks and benefits of climate change will not be evenly spread across all segments of Scotland’s society, with deprived areas recognised as being more vulnerable to negative impacts due to pre-existing health problems and inequities.[86] Remote rural areas, some urban areas and coastal areas are recognised as being more vulnerable to social vulnerability and flood disadvantage. [87]. Flooding is expected to increase pressure on healthcare infrastructure, particularly emergency services, with isolated communities being most vulnerable to infrastructure damage.[88] Adverse impacts on population and human health could include health effects of heat stress, the spread of vector borne disease, and other health problems from air quality. More research is needed to assess to what extent adaptation action is already underway to manage risks to population and human health from flooding and sea level rise, extreme weather impacts on the health care system, risks to health from overheating buildings, poor air quality and pathogens. Potential opportunities include health benefits from increased outdoor activity linked to higher winter temperatures, for example.[89]


Scotland’s soils are young, acidic, carbon rich, and nutrient poor compared to those found in the rest of the UK and mainland Europe. Approximately 90% of Scotland is composed of four major soil types: peats, gleys, brown earths, and podzols. Peat soils cover 22% of the land area in Scotland but hold more than half of the total soil carbon in the country. In general,  Scotland’s soils store over 3,000 million tonnes of carbon which is sixty times as much as in our vegetation. To put this in context, losing just 0.5% of our soil carbon as CO2 would be approximately the equivalent of Scotland’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.[90]

The future management of our soils is vital as projected climate change threatens to promote conditions in which the loss of soil carbon becomes more likely. Certain management interventions in peatlands, forests, and agricultural soils can be used to slow or even reverse climatic change and could therefore contribute to both climate change mitigation and adaptation. Preserving or enhancing soil carbon stocks is also recognised as critically important to maintaining soil quality and delivering a wide range of ecosystem services. There has been no change in overall total soil organic carbon (SOC) stock across Scotland over the past 25 years[91], with the exception of arable and horticultural soils which between 1998 and 2007 experienced a statistically significant decline of 9.3% in mean SOC concentrations.[92]

Modelling suggests that annual erosion rates are less than one tonne per hectare per year for the majority of Scotland under recent rainfall patterns and land uses (1971-2000), and at this level it is unlikely to result in deterioration or loss of soil functions. Notwithstanding, losses of two or more tonnes per hectare per year are predicted in arable areas of eastern Scotland, depending on which crops are grown. This is likely to be further exacerbated into the future as the risk of water-based soil erosion is expected to be higher as a result of projected increases in the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall events.[93]

Soil is at risk from a number of threats which can result in soil being damaged to such an extent that if can no longer carry out its essential functions, or soil being irretrievably lost. These include erosion, changing vegetation, acidification, compaction, loss of organic matter, and sealing by development. Threats from erosion are generally of localised significance; however, it can also lead to loss of important functions. Changes in vegetation also alter soil biodiversity which can significantly affect soil as a habitat and the functions it sustains.[94] Soil sealing (covering soil with impervious material or as a result of compaction) affects almost all functions.[95] Climate change poses risks to Scotland’s soils including increased seasonal aridity and wetness and risks to natural carbon stores and sequestration. More action is needed to manage these risks.[96]


Scotland’s water is a valuable resource that provides a range of benefits including the provision of drinking water vital for our health, and industry (e.g. supporting fisheries and hydropower) and for recreation. It also supports a range of habitats and contains nationally and internationally important species. There are approximately 125,000km of river, 25,500 lochs (2,000 km2), 49 estuaries (1,000km2), 19,000km of coastline (48,000km2),  and 462,000km2 of offshore water found across Scotland and its marine territory. Covering approximately 2% of Scotland’s land area, rivers and lochs contain 90% of the UK’s surface freshwater.[97]

Significant reductions in pollution have been realised over the last 25 years and 56.1% of our surface waters  were recorded as being in good or high overall condition in 2017, despite some localised areas of concern.[98] The proportion of surface waters in good or high overall condition is predicted to rise to 70.3% by 2021 and 89.2% by 2027.[99] Key pressures affecting the overall condition of these waters include man-made barriers to fish migration, modifications to physical condition, and pollution.[100]

The majority of groundwaters are also in good or high condition (83.1%) and this number is predicted to rise to 84.3% (2021) and 90.0% (2027). Key pressures affecting the overall condition of these waters include rural diffuse pollution and mine and non-waste water discharges.[101]

The predicted effects of climate change such as increased temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns may impact river flow and water availability. For waters that are already under pressure from nutrient inputs, the higher temperatures predicted as a result of climate change may further stimulate excessive and damaging growth of water plants. The potential increase in extreme rainfall events and flooding may result in more of the soil and nutrients from agricultural land being washed into surface waters and impact on freshwater species and water quality.[102]


Air quality is affected by pollutants released into the atmosphere through human activity as well as from natural sources. Urban air quality has improved significantly since the 1950s; however, in certain areas poor air quality continues to affect human health and the environment. Air pollution can contribute to a number of health problems and climate change may exacerbate these issues and alter current patterns and concentrations of air pollution.

Key pressures on air quality are emissions from transport, energy production and industry (including agriculture) and in urban areas transport emissions are significant because they increase levels of particulates and nitrogen oxides.[103]

Where air standards are not being met, local authorities have set up Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs). There are currently 38 AQMAs spanning 32 Local Authorities in Scotland and these have been established primarily as a result of traffic emissions. Between 1990 and 2015 there have been reductions in emissions across all pollutants including ammonia (10%), PM10 (63%), NMVOC (66%), nitrogen oxides (71%), carbon monoxide (83%), sulphur dioxide (92%) and lead (99%).[104]

Air quality and climate change are intrinsically linked as they both arise from broadly the same source. Therefore, measures that seek to improve air quality (for example, AQMAs) can also have a positive impact on the climate. However, some measures that seek to reduce the impacts of climate change have the potential to have a negative impact on air quality (for example, the use of biomass for energy).[105]

Material Assets

Significant land- and water- based industries in Scotland include agriculture[106], aquaculture[107], woodlands and forestry[108], transport infrastructure[109], and energy.[110]

Agriculture is the most dominant single use of land in Scotland. Around three quarters of Scotland’s land area is used for agriculture, predominantly grassland for rearing livestock, and around a fifth is used for arable farming, with the most productive land located in the east.[111] The beef industry is the single largest sector of Scottish agriculture and Scotland holds almost 30% of the UK herd of breeding cattle. Scotland also holds a significant percentage of the UK share of sheep breeding stock (20%) and dairy cows (9%).[112]

In 2016, 462,000 hectares of cereals and oilseeds were grown in Scotland, accounting for 12% of the UK cereal area and making Scotland the third largest cereal producer in the EU after France and Germany.[113] The main cereal crop in Scotland is barley. Apart from cereals, potatoes and oilseed rape are the main crops produced in Scotland. Notably, the majority of seed potatoes for the UK potato industry are grown in Scotland. Fruit and vegetable production is also prevalent in some more fertile areas such as Tayside and Angus.[114]

In addition to land-based agriculture, Scotland’s seas provide a variety of food. Aquaculture is an increasingly important industry for Scotland, helping sustain economic growth in the rural and coastal communities of the north and west.[115]

Woodlands constitute 1.4 million hectares (18%) of Scotland’s land area. The consultative draft of Scotland’s Forestry Strategy 2019-2029 lists further expanding the area of all types of woodlands and forests as a priority that will help deliver existing government forestry commitments, such as the Climate Change Plan’s aim to increase woodland cover from 18% to 21% of the Scottish land area by 2032.[116]  The forestry sector contributes approximately £1 billion GVA to Scotland’s economy every year.[117] The quantity of timber harvested has increased relatively steadily over the past 35 years and is currently around seven time the level of the late 1970s.[118]

In terms of transport infrastructure, the latest figures list the total length of public road in Scotland as 56,250km.[119] Since 1975, traffic volume on Scotland’s major roads has doubled, reaching its highest ever level in 2016.[120].  The trunk road network makes up 7% of the Scottish road network and carries 38% of all traffic[121] and 60% of all heavy goods.[122]  Our rail network has 2,819km of track, 25% of which is electrified.[123] Around 89.2 million passenger journeys were made  within Scotland in 2016.[124]After falling between 1960 and 1994-5, rail freight traffic increased for a period up to 2005 but has since declined[125]  Scottish ports handled 67 million tonnes of cargo in 2016 and 8.3 million passengers (on ferry routes within Scotland).[126]  In addition to being an important means of distributing goods, the shipping sector also helps deliver lifeline ferry services which are vital to island communities.[127] There are also five main airports, four of which account for around 94% of total passengers as well as  thirteen other smaller airports mainly serving the islands.[128] 

Roads, railways, airport runways, shipping terminals, canals, and bridges are examples of the facilities and structures that are required to provide transportation services that enable the movement of people and freight. This infrastructure may be affected adversely though climate change, leading to disruption. 

Impacts on some infrastructure have the potential to cascade on to others as part of interdependent networks. Flooding poses the greatest long term risk to infrastructure performance from climate change but the growing risks from heat, water scarcity and slope instability caused by severe weather could be significant. There may be increased competition for water and water quality and quantity problems could be exacerbated by extreme weather brought on by climate change. Extreme weather events will affect the ability of the health and social care sector to deliver services due to impact of events on material assets (infrastructure) as well as increased demand from incidents associated with the events themselves. Some Material assets including road and rail transport are generally more vulnerable to a changing climate than air and water transport and flooding is anticipated to be the most significant impact on these networks, as well as those arising from extreme weather conditions and landslides. [129]

Scotland accounts for around 10% of the UK’s total energy consumption.[130] The majority of the UK’s oil production and more than  half of its natural gas production comes from fields based in the continental shelf around Scotland.[131] The largest single renewable energy sector in Scotland is onshore wind, followed by hydro, solar, and bioenergy.[132] The Scottish Government seeks to generate 50% of Scotland’s overall energy consumption from renewable sources and to have decarbonised our energy system almost completely by 2050 Scotland’s wind and seas hold some of the most concentrated potential not only across the UK and Europe but in the world, with an estimated 25% of Europe’s offshore wind resources.[133]

Scotland was one of the first countries to harness electricity from its waters and its ambitious hydro building programme in the 1950s-60s resulted in infrastructure which continues to produce electricity. Hydro generation in 2015 was at a record high level – 5,828 GWh, up 7.2% on 2014.[134] Further, Scotland is estimated to have significant oil reserves accounting for almost 60% of Europe’s total reserves.[135]

Changes in climate have the potential to impact on material assets in a number of ways. Agriculture and forestry are very closely linked to the climate and hence changes in climate are likely to impact on these both positively and negatively. Positive impacts could include potential higher yields and opportunities for carbon storage. Negative impacts could include for example potential for new pests and diseases to establish and for existing ones to become more damaging.[136]

Flooding and extreme weather events which damage material assets and disrupt business operations pose the greatest threat to Scottish businesses now and in the future. Supporting resilient infrastructure (in particular power, fuel supply and ICT) is crucial in enabling businesses to minimise disruptions  to their operations from climate change risks. Businesses are at risk from climate change impacts including flooding, impacts on coastal locations and infrastructure, and reduced employee productivity (from infrastructure disruption/higher temperatures in working environments). Other risks include possible water scarcity, reduced access to capital and disruption to supply chain and distribution networks. Other risks and opportunities to Businesses may occur from changes in demand for goods and services. [137]

In relation to energy assets, changes in storm severity and frequency as well as increased wave heights may pose risks to existing and planned offshore renewable energy infrastructure, although further research is needed to determine what kind of impacts are likely. Similarly, increased risk of extreme weather events could damage to transport infrastructure and disruption to road and rail operations.[138]

Cultural Heritage

Scotland’s historic environment includes thousands of historic buildings and monuments. Their unique and irreplaceable nature attracts millions of visitors every year and generate income and jobs. Some assets are protected through designation. In 2016, there were 6 World Heritage Sites, 47,288 listed buildings, 8,164 scheduled monuments, 663 conservation areas, 377 designed gardens and landscapes, 8 historic Marine Protected Areas, 7 wrecks, and 39 nationally important battlefields across Scotland.[139]

Most (90-95%) of the historic environment is undesignated. Nevertheless, these sites provide important contextual information which aids in the understanding of designations as well as possessing important cultural, social, and economic values in their own right [140]

Key existing pressures affecting the historic environment include development pressures, maintenance, land use, and coastal erosion. Climate change is likely to affect cultural heritage assets and their immediate surroundings, such as parks and gardens may be threatened from the effects of extreme weather (flooding, erosion or land instability) and longer term, chronic damage to building fabric.[141] Impacts of climate change including projected wetter autumns and winters mean traditional buildings will be wet for longer periods of time, resulting in increased weathering and corrosion. There is a need to protect vulnerable cultural heritage assets (including designated and undesignated sites and their settings from direct climate change impacts (such as flood risk, hydrological changes, soil erosion and vegetation growth) but also from indirect effects of climate change (such as damage to building fabric as a result of adaptation measures.[142] Similarly, rising sea levels mean that coastal erosion is an increasing threat to maritime heritage assets.[143]


Scotland is famous for its distinctive and diverse landscapes. These include urban areas, managed the countryside of central and eastern Scotland to the less intensively managed uplands and coasts of southern Scotland, the Highlands, and the islands. Landscapes of the highest quality have been designated and include 40 National Scenic Areas (NSA) and two National Parks. Our landscapes have evolved over thousands of years as a consequence of natural and cultural forces, and they are still changing.

In general, landscape change has not resulted in any types of landscape character being lost or significantly changed. Nevertheless, important changes to some of the physical elements of landscapes are resulting in observable trends. For example, regional and local landscapes are becoming less distinct as a result of more similarity in building form, settlement patterns, and agricultural practices. Similarly, the distinctive landscape settings of urban areas is being lost as a result of settlement expansion and associated infrastructure such as roads and railways, while the development of renewable energy technology such as wind farms is affecting the extensive views and strong natural character of many of Scotland’s rural landscapes.[144]

Key landscape pressures include climate change, development, and changes in land use. Direct climate change impacts will result from changing temperatures, rainfall, extreme weather events (including drought and flood), and sea level change. It is likely that some land will be lost to the sea, that flooding will increase, and that the distribution patterns of natural and semi-natural habitats will change. Higher temperatures may also allow new crops to be grown and extend existing growing seasons.[145]

Other, indirect effects from climate change, such as the spread of destructive pests and pathogens, could lead to more subtle landscape change through the loss of plant species from the landscape. The combined effects of climate change are likely to be most obvious in lowland and coastal areas, which coincides with such areas being more densely populated and hence resulting in a disproportionate impact on people. In the uplands, with the exception of developments such as wind farms, landscape change as a result of climate change may be less noticeable.[146]

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