Page last updated at 16:04 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 17:04 UK

Landscape 'to resemble Portugal'

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Parts of Dorset will resemble Portugal by the 2080s, a Natural England report has claimed

Parts of Dorset will resemble Portugal by the 2080s with temperatures 4C (7F) higher in the month of July, a Natural England report has claimed.

The study said without action to tackle climate change rainfall at Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase will fall by 12%.

Beech trees numbers will decline and be replaced by more drought-resistant trees, the report noted.

Natural England said potential solutions include better floodplain management and increased water storage.

It said the re-establishment of grassland and woodland to bind the soil would also help.

'Increased droughts'

The report claims freshwater species will suffer from lower river levels.

While the chalk plateau of the Dorset Downs could be affected by onshore wind turbines, erected to help cut emissions, which would damage the landscape.

Gwilym Wren, from Natural England south-west region, said: "If not reversed a 4C rise in temperature will probably lead to the Dorset Downs and Cranborne Chase having a climate that resembles present-day Portugal and we need to start adapting accordingly.

"There will be longer growing seasons but also increased droughts, floods and soil erosion.

"We therefore need to start making well informed decisions now so that we can maximise the opportunities and minimise the threats."

The Environment Agency said it would study Natural England's report and give "careful consideration" to what action it takes.



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