Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009

Climate threat to Britain's birds

The lapwing is one species likely to be hit hard by climate change

Some of Britain's birds will struggle to survive the effects of climate change, according to new research.

A report by the RSPB and University of Durham predicts that an average range of birds will move 340 miles (550km) to the north by the end of this century.

Warmer temperatures could force some species to find a home outside the UK, but those unable to fly long distances over the sea may struggle to adapt.

The UK might also become a refuge for birds from Europe, said the report.

Some species could be forced to abandon the hotter, southern parts of the continent.

The researchers produced a model that showed how rising temperatures would shift the location of suitable habitats to the north and east.

RSPB head of climate change Ruth Davis told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "Some of them probably are going to be able to move relatively easily if there is a lot of suitable habitat.

"But if you are already at the northern part of the available habitat and you are a slow-moving, sedentary bird and the only available space for you is in Iceland, your chance looks a lot more difficult.

"There are many more species, we think, that are going to lose as a result of these changes than are going to gain."

Ms Davis said that, as well as taking action to limit emissions of climate change gases, Britain could make a difference to the birds' hope of survival by making its countryside more welcoming to them.

"It does look a little grim, but I think if we take the action we need to do to reduce emissions, we can give quite a lot of birds the option to still be there when we have got a grip on the climate change problem.

"We can make our countryside more friendly to birds and wildlife."

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