The BCCIL is dedicated to investigating the impact that climate change has on the UK's grasslands and how to maintain and protect the biodiversity that lives within it for future generations.
Originally established in 1993, the BCCIL is the longest running climate change experiment in the UK, and the second longest in the world. The facility is located on privately-owned calcareous grassland on the outskirts of Buxton, Derbyshire. Experimental treatments have now been applied continuously to limestone grassland for 26 years.
Regular surveys of the vegetation have made a major contribution to our understanding of how plants respond to, and can resist, climate changes. The experiment is recognised as a globally important resource for our understanding of climate impacts on plants and soil microbes and fauna.
Climatic variables are manipulated experimentally to evaluate the impact of three different treatments:
- elevated winter temperatures (ambient temperature +3oC November to May)
- controlled summer drought (no rain July/August)
- supplemented summer rainfall (ambient rain +20% July/August)
Temperature and soil moisture are logged continuously, with all plots subjected to simulated sheep grazing in October.
Each block contains three spare plots allowing new experiments to be introduced. These currently include investigations of the impacts of climate on invasibility and transplant experiments examining the effects of soil depth on the fitness of contrasted plant species.