As a very warm September draws to a close, Global Action Plan Finance Director and Nature Enthusiast Graeme Spinks talks about climate change and Damselflies.

This month saw the hottest September day for over 100 years, which may, or may not, say something about climate change. However, whilst I was out and about enjoying the warmth I discovered a small insect, a Willow Emerald Damselfly, that I think does.

It’s a recent colonist from the continent, one of four species of dragonfly that have made landfall in Britain and have bred for the first time this century.

Since we only have a little over fifty species breeding in the UK this represents a significant increase in a short space of time. Something is happening, conditions are clearly more to the liking of these southern species.

My record is the first time the Willow Emerald Damselfly has been seen in my part of London. It initially arrived in East Anglia less than a decade ago and is moving west. Unlike some other insect invaders, this isn’t a cause for concern. Dragonflies, as well as being spectacular, have a positive effect on the natural environment, feeding on midges and mosquitos whilst in turn becoming the food for a range of larger species such as the Hobby, a small falcon that is also a conservation success story.

My Damselfly was small and subtly attractive rather than spectacular, but caused some excitement amongst those that monitor the biodiversity at Beddington Farmlands, south London’s largest landfill site. Hopefully it will help keep them enthused as they work to retain the natural environment in an increasingly industrial landscape.

It also cheered me up, following the publication earlier this month of the 2016 State of Nature report. The report brings together data and expertise from over 50 organisations and revealed that over half of UK species studied have declined since 1970, with evidence mounting that climate change is having harmful impacts as well as driving range expansion in some species like my Damselfly.