The impacts of climate change are likely to be more extreme in London than in any other part of Britain due to the mass of buildings trapping heat in the city. As wildlife from outside the UK already thrives in the capital – including the ring-necked parakeet, harlequin ladybird, and Japanese knotweed - the London Wildlife Trust and Natural History Museum are holding a conference to examine the possible effects of climate change on the capital’s rich biodiversity and how we can plan for the future.
London Calling: The Capital’s Wildlife and Climate Change will take place at the Natural History Museum on Saturday 25 November. Speakers include Charles Secrett, the Environment and Sustainability Advisor to the Mayor of London, Mathew Frith, Vice Chair of London Wildlife Trust and Mark Spencer, Stuart Hine and Gill Stevens of the Natural History Museum. The conference is open to all and can be booked through the Museum’s website.
Debate will focus on the important issue of whether newcomers are detrimental to current wildlife and how invasive species are defined and valued. For example, Japanese knotweed is often vilified by conservationists whereas buddleia is usually applauded. Why are these widespread non-native plants treated so differently by society? While on-going survey work has shown that the harlequin ladybird has significantly increased in numbers and distribution in London since its arrival in the UK two years ago. Is this alien really a more destructive invader, out-competing (and eating) many of our native ladybird species?
Mathew Frith, Vice Chair of London Wildlife Trust, speaking on the historical perspective of the Capital’s dynamic biodiversity says, ‘London has undergone a continuous series of changes over the past 2000 years and the natural environment has adapted accordingly. Species from outside the UK arrived here with the first settlers, and have waxed and waned in the capital ever since. Climate change potentially ups the rate of new species coming into London. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, either for our existing multi-national biodiversity or for the people that live and work here.’
While Dr Mark Spencer of the Natural History Museum, speaking on Botanical natives and aliens says,‘understanding how climate change increasingly affects the capital’s wildlife will be key when considering the national picture. Urban environments, such as London, are likely to be the focus of future biological invasions. Cities are centres of human activities including construction, horticulture and recreation. Many of these activities are likely to be sources of invasive species that may have serious consequences for our native wildlife’.
Despite scientists and conservationists doing their best to plan for the future, the possible responses of wildlife to projected climate change models are under-researched for many of London’s plants and animals. Some conservation work may have to be reactive. As potentially invasive species establish in London, management strategies will need to be produced rapidly. Because the biology of each species is different, these strategies will often have to be produced on an individual basis.
‘Anyone interested in the future of our capital’s wildlife will want to hear what these leading urban conservationists have to say’, adds Carlo Laurenzi, OBE, Chief Executive of London Wildlife Trust. ‘This conference is open to all, we hope many Londoners will come and find out about the future or our city’s wildlife.’
London Calling: The Capital’s Wildlife and Climate Change
Date and Time: Saturday 25 November 10.30 - 16.00
Location: Flett Theatre, Natural History Museum
Conference fee: £12 for London Wildlife Trust Members, £20 for general public
Notes for editors
Venue: The Natural History Museum
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10.00 - 17.50, Sunday 11.00 - 17.50
Visitor enquiries: 020 7942 5000 Monday - Friday, 020 7942 5011 Saturday and Sunday