Sunday, 10 September 2017

Summer washout drowns hopes of UK wildlife bonanza

August rains wiped out the promise of a long-awaited bumper summer for birds, insects and plants, say experts, though autumn will be good for fungi

Environment editor
Friday 1 September 2017 06.01 BSTLast modified on Friday 1 September 2017 06.02 BST

The summer holiday washout wiped out a much needed bumper season for wildlife across the UK, according to wildlife experts at the National Trust.

A normal winter and balmy spring provided ideal conditions for birds, insects and plants but the heavy rains that rolled in during August dampened the promised bonanza. However, the weather patterns should see a good autumn for fungi and some nuts and berries.

“The [wet August] was especially damaging for warmth-loving insects, including many butterflies and bees,” said National Trust wildlife expert Matthew Oates. “It means we haven’t had a genuinely good summer since 2006 – the wait goes on. As we all know, you can’t rely on the weather.”

The rains were ushered in by a southward shift of the jet stream, which usually shepherds wet weather to the north of the UK. Scientists expect climate change to result in wetter UK summers, possibly linked to rapid ice melting in the Arctic affecting systems further south.

, with a major report in 2016 finding one in 10 species are threatened with extinction and that the UK is “among the most nature-depleted countries in the world”. The National Trust is the country’s biggest farmer with 2,000 tenants and the biggest landowner after the Forestry Commission, and it is aiming to restore 25,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat by 2025.

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