Climate change in the uplands: A UK perspective on safeguarding regulatory ecosystem services

Harriet G. Orr, R. L. Wilby, M. Mc Kenzie Hedger, I. Brown

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)


    The UK uplands are highly sensitive and significant cultural landscapes that have been created by woodland clearance for agriculture and are at threat from fire, over-grazing, mineral extraction, land drainage, air pollution and recreation. Some of these activities increase upland sensitivity to climate change, contributing to increased flood risk, or soil carbon losses. Many distinct areas of public policy impinge on the uplands, but most have yet to integrate climate change protection within their objectives. Placed within the emerging ecosystems services perspective, policies could be modified to deliver land management services to secure soil carbon stocks, and to protect the goods, services and functions that uplands deliver. There are, therefore, both new opportunities and threats to tackle. The present paper outlines climate sensitivity and change in the uplands; reviews adaptation and mitigation options; and considers available policy, information and management tools. Within an ecosystems framework, emphasis is placed on safeguarding key regulatory services. We offer a research agenda to support adaptation and outline measures that could be developed within existing regulatory frameworks, or signal where policies may need revision. Research priorities include better quantification of carbon fluxes under different soils and land management practices, techniques for up-scaling local interventions to quantify landscape-scale benefits, and the evaluation of adaptive responses in the context of sustainable land use. Potential adaptation strategies include improved spatial planning for land and water, the creation of networked habitats to enable species migration, and practical guidance on appropriate locations for intensification and extensification of land use.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)77-98
    Number of pages22
    JournalClimate Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


    • Adaptation
    • Carbon balance
    • Climate change
    • Ecosystem services
    • Policy
    • Upland

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Environmental Science(all)
    • Atmospheric Science


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