Global warming is 'big threat to London's wildlife'

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Global warming will threaten London's wildlife habitats by increasing the risk of flooding in the winter and drought in the summer, according to a report published today.

Despite being one of the world's largest and most densely populated cities, the capital boasts a wide diversity of habitats that are hugely important to the wildlife that depend on them.

The report by the London Climate Change Partnership warned that a global increase in temperature could expose London's scarce wetland areas to drought and fire in the summer months.

Warmer, wetter winters could also increase pressure on rivers, which in turn could flood and wash out important nesting and breeding sites.

The report suggests the best way to combat the increase in temperature is by adopting "urban greening" schemes.

These would include river restoration, incorporating grass roofs and walls into building designs and increasing the number of trees planted in the capital.

Alison Barnes from the Government's countryside watchdog Natural England, said: "Climate change is going to affect us all - both Londoners and the city's wildlife.

"We know that more habitat will increase the chances of vulnerable species being able to cope with the peaks of heat, drought and flood that the climate change predictions suggest.

"However, there is also growing evidence that greening London can protect people too, by helping to keep the city cool and by soaking up storm water thus reducing the incidence of flooding."

The report was released to coincide with United Nations World Habitat Day.

Gerry Archer, chairman of the London Climate Change Partnership added: "We need to find ways to accommodate a rich and changing biodiversity which is vital for our future and this report shows how our adaptations to climate change can benefit Londoners directly whilst also being friendly to wildlife."

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