Adult female reed bunting, perched on reed stem in golden light, with the sun setting behind

Helping wildlife adapt

Posing a series of questions about how nature conservation should respond to climate change has helped us shape and define the way forwards for nature conservation.

20 Tough Questions, 20 Rough Answers

Golden sunlight over the wetlands of Wallasea,

Climate change is changing how we reshape and define nature conservation. Our report 20 Tough Questions, 20 Rough Answers, explores many of the key directions we are pursuing to help ensure wildlife can adapt to the challenges ahead.


At its core it puts species and habitats, nature reserves and landscapes, in the best possible condition today, while developing how we manage them to accommodate the new requirements that climate change is already bringing.

Ensuring a coherent approach

Two female field staff placing & monitoring dams across drains in former forestry plantations in Scotland, using measuring equipment

The pressures placed on our wildlife by climate change will necessitate a co-ordinated and coherent response.  For example, if species’ ranges shift, they will only be successful if other conditions are met to create ideal habitat.


For this to happen we need to work towards a more coherent network of protected sites, linked within more wildlife friendly landscapes. The RSPB's nature reserves and our landscapes scale programme help to deliver this.

Practical action on reserves

Adult female, reed bunting perched in sunny reedbed with nesting material in its beak

The RSPB is engaged in a wide range of practical activities to ensure we continue to provide the perfect habitat for our wildlife, addressing the impacts and opportunities of climate change.


Lakenheath was created to provide safe and secure reedbed habitat for bitterns and other fen wildlife, with their habitat threatened at coastal sites.


Our Wallasea Island wild coast project, the largest inter-tidal habitat creation project in Europe, has created new wetlands which will benefit people and wildlife.

Changing the way we manage

Senior Reserves Ecologists, carrying out fish survey, in a small white rowing boat, moving along the reedbed, in RSPB Minsmere

We’re using regional climatic forecasts for the next 25 years to help us adjust our aims and activities in a way that best serves our wildlife.


With southeast England reserves already suffering from drier summers, we are implementing measures, such as creating reservoirs and reducing water seepage, to retain water availability for wetlands.


We are also looking to create new wetlands in areas predicted to have sufficient rainfall in the future.

Our research

Adult northern lapwing foraging in bright green field

Our investigations into the specific and generic effects of climate change are informing which actions we take to help our most vulnerable species.


Specific examples include how we have studied the impact of dry summers on lapwings and how the change in timings and number of emerging craneflies affects golden plover chicks.


More broadly we are researching range expansion for habitat specialists and using it to inform future habitat creation and restoration.