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The environmental changes being driven by climate change are disturbing natural habitats and species in ways that are still unclear. There are signs that rising temperatures are affecting biodiversity, while changing rainfall patterns, extreme weather events, and ocean acidification are putting pressure on species already threatened by human activities.
A major impact of climate change on biodiversity is the increase in the intensity and frequency of fires, storms or periods of drought.
Consequences of climate change on the species component of biodiversity include:
• changes in distribution,
• increased extinction rates,
• changes in reproduction timings and
• changes in length of growing seasons for plants.
Rising global temperatures also have the potential to alter ecosystems over longer periods by changing what can grow and live within them.
On land, higher temperatures have forced animals and plants to move to higher elevations or higher latitudes, many moving towards the Earth’s poles, with far-reaching consequences for ecosystems. The risk of species extinction increases with every degree of warming.
In the ocean, rising temperatures increase the risk of irreversible loss of marine and coastal ecosystems. Live coral reefs, for instance, have nearly halved in the past 150 years, and further warming threatens to destroy almost all remaining reefs including the Great Barrier Reef.
Biodiversity is also essential for limiting climate change:
When human activities produce greenhouse gases, around half of the emissions remain in the atmosphere, while the other half is absorbed by the land and ocean. These ecosystems – and the biodiversity they contain – are natural carbon sinks, which acts as nature-based solutions to climate change.
Protecting, managing, and restoring forests offers roughly two-thirds of the total mitigation potential of all nature-based solutions. Despite massive and ongoing losses, forests still cover more than 30 per cent of the planet’s land.
Ocean habitats such as seagrasses and mangroves can also take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at rates up to four times higher than terrestrial forests can. Their ability to capture and store carbon which make them highly valuable in the fight against climate change.
Conserving and restoring natural spaces, both on land and in the water, is essential for limiting carbon emissions and adapting to an already changing climate.

Creating a sustainable future for humans and animals