Climate change is recognised as a significant driver of change, with temperature, salinity, ocean acidification, and changes in extreme weather events being the main factors affecting marine biodiversity.
These changes present new challenges to those responsible for the implementation of legislation in the marine environment. As legislation is the key means for ensuring the conservation of marine biodiversity, understanding how climate change needs to be considered, to ensure effective implementation, is vital.
It is important to consider the impact of both climate change and natural variability, and any consequences, in terms of meeting conservation targets and objectives. It is not always easy, however, to distinguish climate change impacts from other drivers.
The implementation of marine protected area legislation was chosen as the specific focus for this Report Card, along with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), as:
- they are key priorities both for the UK and internationally
- the purpose of such legislation is the protection of marine biodiversity
- stakeholders, including government, identified these issues as areas where climate change implications need to be considered
This Report Card starts by showing the degree to which climate change is accounted for in marine biodiversity related legislation. An up-to-date analysis of the UK marine protected area network is then provided. This analysis sets the scene for a fuller discussion on how features in the network could be affected by climate change and the management implications. The MSFD is briefly discussed, and finally the key issues for decision makers to consider in implementing marine biodiversity legislation are presented.
Plymouth Sound and Estuaries Special Area of Conservation © Keith Hiscock