A variety of evidence suggests that species have, in the past, been able to withstand the effects of climatic change in localised environments known as refugia, where specific environmental conditions acted as a buffer against broader-scale climatic changes.
Therefore, an important question for conservation is whether refugia might exist under current and future anthropogenic climate change. If there are areas that are likely to remain relatively climatically stable and so enable species to persist despite climate change making surrounding areas unsuitable, identifying and protecting these places will be an important part of future conservation strategies.
This report is part of a project that is investigating this question. The report was commissioned to identify the characteristics of potential refugia, to investigate evidence for the existence of contemporary refugia by analysing patterns of local persistence and disappearance of over 1000 species across a range of taxa, and to identify sites in England with the potential to function as refugia for different taxonomic groups at a range of spatial scales.
The results of this report and the related report Palaeoecological evidence to inform identification of potential climatic change refugia and areas for ecological restoration (NECR163) will be used by Natural England and others to advise on and help design conservation areas and ecological networks that will be resilient to climate change.