September 18 marks the beginning of Climate week and a host of events throughout the country designed to raise awareness of climate change and hopefully instigate some positive changes.

Climate change has had a lot of press recently, particularly following US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the international Paris climate accord despite widespread agreement among scientists that accelerated climate change is a reality. There can be little doubt of this when 2016 was the warmest year on record, breaking the previous record held by 2015, and by 2014 before that.

All too often people think of climate change as a problem for future generations.

However, there are already signs throughout the natural world that this change is already with us. As Countryside Rangers, one of our jobs is to record the wildlife in our parks. Every year we are noticing a gradual shift in the timing (phenology) of biological events. From trees in leaf and flowers in bloom to insects on the wing and frogs spawning, everything seems to be happening a little earlier each year. In fact, studies have shown that spring is now coming around 11 days earlier than 30 years ago. Migration patterns have been affected too.

Every year in Pollok, the Swallows flying around the Courtyard, signalling that summer is on its way, seem to be arriving earlier and leaving later.

As a result of increasing temperatures, the RSPB say European breeding birds will move north by an average of 300 miles. The nuthatch - a species traditionally only found further south – now frequently seen in Pollok Park is evidence of this. Come to the bird feeders outside the Countryside Ranger office and you have a good chance of seeing a one.

Flowers blooming, bees buzzing and new species arriving - so far none of this sounds like bad news. The problem however, is that if climate change occurs too quickly, some species may not be able to adapt and move quickly enough to survive. They may be forced into areas where there is no habitat for them. This is why protecting and creating new wildlife habitats is so important. It has also been found that some groups, such as invertebrates, are adapting to these changes faster than others, such as the birds that feed on them, causing them to be ‘out of sync’. When the chicks hatch out, the food they depend on may not be available, leading to their starvation. We are also at risk of losing species that currently live in our most mountainous and northerly habitats. For example, the Scottish crossbill, the UK’s only endemic species of bird, faces the risk of extinction.

You may wonder if there is anything that can be done help and the short answer is ‘yes’! Whether it is recycling and composting your waste, switching to an electricity supplier that supplies green energy, feeding the birds, or volunteering to help create and maintain wildlife habitats at your local park or nature reserve, every little helps. Why not pop along to Glasgow’s Climate Change week at Glasgow Green from the 18th – 21st September, 1- 4pm or one of the other events across Scotland

Denise Neely, Countryside Ranger for Pollok Country Park