WILDLIFE in Scotland including Atlantic salmon, the capercaillie and the freshwater pearl mussel – face a “red alert” over climate change threats, environmental charities say.

In a report released today, WWF Scotland and Scottish Environment LINK warn plant and animal life is “coming under increasing pressure” from rising temperatures and habitat loss. Moorlands, machair and more are said to be at risk, with warmer winters posing a threat to the mountain-dwelling snow bunting.

The charities’ Scotland’s Nature on Red Alert study showed the latter’s breeding population is down to an estimated 60 pairs here, and the report says higher temperatures will further reduce its range and leave it “with nowhere to go”.

Warming North Atlantic waters are also said to be pushing the white beaked dolphin – which thrives in cold conditions – away from the edge of its range in the Hebrides.

Meanwhile, the species mix of plants in wild spaces is said to be changing, with varieties like leafy dwarf willow and pink-petalled moss campion in decline. With the Climate Change Bill currently before Holyrood, the groups say the results prove the need for tougher legislation.

The bill aims to introduce a 90% reduction of carbon emissions by 2050, but campaigners have called for this to be increased to 100%.

Dr Sam Gardner, acting director at WWF Scotland said: “Scotland is rightly proud of its diverse and unique flora and fauna, but we need to wake up to the fact it is increasingly under threat from climate change. It’s not just polar bears that are under threat, but our beloved Scottish species and habitats.

“Nature is on the frontline of climate change. Even small increases in temperature threaten many of the plants and animals that give Scotland its iconic landscapes, but that we also depend on for food and pollination.

“That’s why it’s so important the Climate Change Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament is strengthened to ensure that, within a generation, we end our role in climate change entirely.”

Last month Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie urged the Scottish Government to aim for a 100% reduction in emissions by 2040.

The Scottish Government says it will do this as soon as it can be done “credibly and responsibly”.

Craig Macadam, Scottish Environment LINK vice-chair said: “From peatlands to pearl mussels, Scotland is home to many globally significant species and habitats. With these wildlife treasures comes an international responsibility to protect them for future generations.

“We need to give our species and habitats a fighting chance to adapt to climate change. It is important that we restore the health of our nature and improve its resilience to climate change impacts. We therefore need to set ambitious targets.”