Blog - Harnessing Nature's Powers
The effects of climate change can already be seen in our environment. But nature also holds the answers, as Local Nature Partnership Coordinator Veronika Brannovic explains.
Although there’s uncertainty about how climate change will impact us locally, it is likely we will experience more extreme weather.
An increase in average temperatures has already had an impact on local wildlife. We now have a number of new species in the UK, which previously wouldn’t have survived our colder winters.
This is having a detrimental impact on native species. For example, in Torfaen Japanese knotweed and Himalayan Balsam which spread out and shade other native plants.
So, what can we do to mitigate for these effects? For many cases, nature provides the answer and, with a little help from us, can reduce the negative impacts of climate change.
Letting the grass grow
Torfaen Council is reviewing the way it manages grasslands, including meadows, playing fields and roadside verges.
Keeping grass short reduces its ability to maintain moisture during droughts and to absorb water during rainfall. Leaving grassed areas to grow throughout the summer allows moisture to be retained through dry spells, and they absorb water when it’s raining which reduces the risk of flooding.
Letting the grass grow also benefits wildlife, particularly pollinating insects, and stores carbon in the grounds, helping to reduce the impacts of climate change further.
Restoring and protecting peatland and bogs
Peatlands and bogs store carbon and the council has been working with other local authorities and landowners to restore and protect these habitats.
An additional benefit of peatlands and bogs is that they store a lot of water, and this reduces flooding, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change locally.
Trees and hedges
The right tree in the right place helps to mitigate the effects of climate change in a number of ways.
Trees capture carbon as they grow and store it for many years, depending on the type of tree. They also help to provide shade for buildings, people and animals in hot weather. so trees in towns and urban areas are particularly important for this reason. Some types of tree will soak up water and reduce flooding, for instance alder and willow.
Hedges provide a vital corridor for many species of wildlife and are a good way to incorporate trees into a garden or greenspace. Be careful when trimming them though – as mentioned above, birds are nesting earlier and later in the season due to milder weather. Nests are very difficult to spot.
The Afon Lwyd and its tributaries flow through Torfaen, inspiring the name of our county borough. A healthy river system is vital in collecting and carrying water, including during flooding, and Torfaen Council is working with other local authorities to improve the river and associated habitats wherever possible.
If you’d like to know more about any of these topics or get involved in projects related to this article, get in touch with the Local Nature Partnership.
Last Modified: 04/11/2021
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