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Managing the land in a changing climate

This report is part of a series of annual progress reports by the Adaptation Sub-Committee to assess how the United Kingdom is preparing for the major risks and opportunities presented by climate change. Together these reports will provide the baseline evidence for the Committee’s statutory report to Parliament on preparedness due in 2015.

This year’s report extends the work of the Committee to some of the key ecosystem services provided by the land. Specifically, the report addresses the use of land to continue to deliver essential goods and services in the face of a changing climate – supplying food and timber, providing habitat for wildlife, storing carbon in the soil, and coping with sea level rise on the coast. It explores the extent to which decisions about the land are helping the country to prepare for climate change.

The key messages the report highlights are:

• There are low-regret opportunities to make the natural capital of this country more resilient to climate change.

• The Government has set appropriate policy goals in some of these areas, but it is not clear how these goals will be met. In other cases there are policy gaps.

• In order to improve the resilience of ecosystems to climate change, the Government should ensure that current regulations are fully implemented. It should also ensure that the value of ecosystem services is reflected in decision-making.