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CR 37:77-98 (2008)  -  DOI:

Climate change in the uplands: a UK perspective on safeguarding regulatory ecosystem services

H. G. Orr1,*, R. L. Wilby2, M. McKenzie Hedger3, I. Brown4

1Environment Agency, Environment Centre Wales, Deiniol Rd, Bangor LL57 2UW, UK
2Department of Geography, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
3Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Sussex BN1 9RE, UK
4Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK

ABSTRACT: The UK uplands are highly sensitive and significant cultural landscapes that have been created by woodland clearance for agriculture and are at threat from fire, over-grazing, mineral extraction, land drainage, air pollution and recreation. Some of these activities increase upland sensitivity to climate change, contributing to increased flood risk, or soil carbon losses. Many distinct areas of public policy impinge on the uplands, but most have yet to integrate climate change protection within their objectives. Placed within the emerging ecosystems services perspective, policies could be modified to deliver land management services to secure soil carbon stocks, and to protect the goods, services and functions that uplands deliver. There are, therefore, both new opportunities and threats to tackle. The present paper outlines climate sensitivity and change in the uplands; reviews adaptation and mitigation options; and considers available policy, information and management tools. Within an ecosystems framework, emphasis is placed on safeguarding key regulatory services. We offer a research agenda to support adaptation and outline measures that could be developed within existing regulatory frameworks, or signal where policies may need revision. Research priorities include better quantification of carbon fluxes under different soils and land management practices, techniques for up-scaling local interventions to quantify landscape-scale benefits, and the evaluation of adaptive responses in the context of sustainable land use. Potential adaptation strategies include improved spatial planning for land and water, the creation of networked habitats to enable species migration, and practical guidance on appropriate locations for intensification and extensification of land use.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Uplands · Carbon balance · Adaptation · Ecosystem services · Policy

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Cite this article as: Orr HG, Wilby RL, McKenzie Hedger M, Brown I (2008) Climate change in the uplands: a UK perspective on safeguarding regulatory ecosystem services. Clim Res 37:77-98.

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