Thursday, March 24, 2005

GONHS at climate change workshop

A delegation from the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) was in Cambridge last week at the invitation of the organisers of a major workshop of scientists working on Climate Change. The workshop, which ran over two days at the historic Madingley Hall, was attended by scientists and officials from the UK, Holland, Denmark, Germany and Gibraltar and focused on the effects of climate change on migratory species.

A GONHS spokesman said: “The main aim of the workshop was to prepare a document for submission to the UK Government, which was represented at the meeting by officials from DEFRA (Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs), to form the basis of their policy document to be presented as the formal UK position at the meeting of the Signatories to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).”

“Discussions centred on changes being observed in the behaviour of migratory species over recent decades, some of which have been very noticeable from Gibraltar, and on the possible, or likely future effects on these. There was particular concern about the situation affecting birds of the tundra in the very north of Europe and Asia, which are being pushed north but will run our of land. There was also concern about the loss of sea ice and the effect this will have on species of seals and on the polar bear. Marine species would be affected through changes in ocean currents and, of particular relevance to Gibraltar, increasing drought in the Mediterranean would lengthen migratory journeys and increase stress to migrants.”

“Some of these effects can be partly offset for example by creating artificial wetlands, and by moving marshy areas inland as sea levels rise. However, it was generally agreed that the only real solution is a significant cut in carbon emissions. Following discussion of the draft document discussed, the formal recommendations will be presented to DEFRA on behalf of the workshop by the British Trust for Ornithology, which was tasked with organising the workshop.”

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