Norfolk’s iconic Swallowtail butterfly at risk from climate change

Swallowtail Butterfly Photo: Kenny Brooks

Swallowtail Butterfly Photo: Kenny Brooks

(c) copyright

Norfolk’s iconic Swallowtail butterfly at risk from climate change, according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

European Badger Photo: Paul ClarkeEuropean Badger Photo: Paul Clarke

The first in-depth audit of its kind has found that the butterfly, which cannot be found anywhere else in the UK, is at risk – along with three quarters of bumblebee, grasshopper and moth species.

David North, head of people and wildlife at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said the findings were a stark warning.

Mr North said: “The likely impacts of climate change on our wildlife, shown by this detailed research, are hugely worrying.

“It is unthinkable that, with a warming of two degrees, swallowtails would very likely vanish from the Norfolk Broads - and being totally dependent on their food plant, milk parsley, it won’t be possible for them to adapt by moving elsewhere.

Common shrew Photo: Anne MarksCommon shrew Photo: Anne Marks

“Unless we take bold action to limit warming to below this level there will be huge changes to our wildlife - both common and rare.”

The study found 15 species of birds such as the bunting and pink-footed goose were also at risk.

Meanwhile the common shrew, roe deer and European badger are among seven mammal species which may be lost from Norfolk.

The common frog, great crested newt, adders and the common lizard could also be lost.

Common Lizzard on a plank of wood along the river bank in Waxham Photo: Anne MarksCommon Lizzard on a plank of wood along the river bank in Waxham Photo: Anne Marks

Dr Jeff Price, UEA’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, was lead researcher on the study, which has been published in the Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society journal.

Dr Price said: “This research shows that climate change really will pose increasing risks to biodiversity both globally and in Norfolk.

“The important thing to remember here is that global warming has already reached 1 degree above pre-industrial levels.

“We’re currently on a trajectory for 3.2 degrees if international pledges to reduce CO2 are genuine.

Muntjac at Fairhaven today Photo: Terry PostleMuntjac at Fairhaven today Photo: Terry Postle

“If so, major changes need to be made to how we use and produce our energy.”

Dr Price said that if global warning could be limited to 1.5 degree - the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement - wildlife losses would be limited.

He added: “But two degrees is a tipping point at which climate conditions will become largely or completely unsuitable for many species.”

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