New information published today will help Scottish authorities better prepare for the impacts of climate change.

The Handbook of Climate Trends across Scotland, a project led by Scottish Natural Heritage, is designed for use by land managers, local authority planners and government policy makers who will need to respond to the inevitable impacts of climate change.

"We want to equip those that will have to respond to the impacts of climate change with the information they need to make decisions about how to adapt. "The UK climate change scenarios are amongst the best in the world, and together with information on historic climate changes, practitioners in Scotland have access to some of the best climate information available."

Professor Colin Galbraith, director of scientific and advisory services at Scottish Natural Heritage said: "Climate change presents one of the biggest threats to Scotland's environment, and I welcome the Minister's support in addressing this issue in Scotland.

"For the first time we have a clear picture of the trends in weather patterns throughout Scotland, over the last century. It provides a baseline from which anyone in the environmental sector - and indeed other areas of work - will be able to measure future climate change, and will help us to plan how we can protect the plants, animals and landscapes which are vulnerable to these changes.

"Species such as the Capercaillie and the freshwater pearl mussel, which are both vulnerable to the effects of climate change, have recently been highlighted as the priorities for conservation action by SNH as part of the current consultation on the Species Framework."

The six month study to inform production of the Handbook was commissioned by SNIFFER (Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research) on behalf of the Scottish Executive, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Forestry Commission. Initial findingsfrom this reaearch were published on 18 January, 2006.

Participants in the conference discussed development of new climate change scenarios to the end of the century, updating those published by UKCIP (UK Climate Impacts Programme) in 2002. The new UK climate change scenarios are due for publication in 2008. The current scenarios,showing that Scotland can expect warmer, wetter winters, less snowfall and an increased risk of flooding by the 2080s, are available on the UKCIP website at www.ukcip.org.uk.