The National Trust has warned that this year’s tumultuous weather is set to become the new norm, causing a range of impacts for nature if steps aren’t taken to tackle the climate and nature crises.

Extreme weather events in Cornwall have been highlighted as part of the Trust’s annual weather report.

A warm January followed by back-to-back tree-toppling storms in February, a dry spring, a summer of record breaking temperatures and a prolonged heatwave causing severe drought, ending with December’s cold snap, has given UK wildlife a bumpy and difficult year with many species and habitats struggling to cope, the Trust’s staff say.

The UK is not the only country to have suffered with this year’s weather.

Many countries across Europe also baked in the summer heat and wildfires, flooding, hurricanes and typhoons claimed countless lives around the world including in South Africa, Pakistan, California, Japan, The Philippines and Australia.

A new record high UK temperature of 40.3 degrees Celsius was recorded on July 19 during the heatwave, helping make this the joint hottest summer on record.

Much of the country was, and still is, gripped by drought after months of low rainfall has yet to replenish groundwater, with the hot, dry conditions over the summer drying up rivers, impacting wildlife and landscapes, damaging crops, affecting livestock and fuelling wildfires, destroying land and homes of nature.

A number of wildfires struck National Trust land, particularly in the South West.

Areas of Zennor Head in Cornwall suffered severe damage.

The drought conditions also caused particular issues for National Trust gardens – with lawns drying up and plants in summer borders going over earlier than normal.

Tenant farmers struggled in some areas with a lack of grass for livestock and the heat stunting the growth of arable crops.

It also contributed to the “false” autumn seen by much of the country with early leaf drop.

In contrast, much of the UK experienced a good year for some nuts and berries – but this is thought to be partly due to the stress to trees caused by the drought conditions.

Keith Jones, climate change adviser at the National Trust said: “There is no escaping that this year’s weather has been challenging for nature.

“Drought, high temperatures, back-to-back storms, unseasonal heat, the recent cold snap, and floods means nature, like us, is having to cope with a new litany of weather extremes.

“It is a stark illustration of the sort of difficulties many of our species will face if we don’t do more to mitigate rising temperatures and helping nature’s survival.”

Despite the tough year for UK nature, there have been encouraging signs at places where conservation efforts are already underway

After 20 years of choughs breeding in Cornwall, 2022 was another record breaking year with 25 pairs breeding successfully on National Trust land, bringing the current population in Cornwall to around 200 birds.

Choughs now live all around the coast of Cornwall as their range continues to grow.

Due to this year’s weather, some birds were spotted moving inland to search for food, which is likely to have been due to the ground being so hard around the coastal strip, where they typically feed on earthworms, beetles, ants and other insects and invertebrates using their specially designed bill to dig into the soil.

The year began with the UK having the warmest New Year’s Day on record with St James’s Park in central recording temperatures which reached 16.3C.

The previous New Year’s Day record was set in 1916, when it reached 15.6C in Bude.