No let-up in net loss of England’s nature
England’s wildlife continues to decline according to the State of Nature 2019 report. The latest findings show that since rigorous scientific monitoring began in the 1970s more species in England have seen their populations decrease than increase across wildlife studied and that the declines continue unabated.
Following the State of Nature reports in 2013 and 2016, leading professionals from more than 70 wildlife organisations have joined with government agencies for the first time, to present the clearest picture to date of the status of our species across land and sea.
The State of Nature 2019 report reveals that 35% of English species studied have declined, 31% have increased and 34% shown little change since 1970, while 13% of species assessed in England are threatened with extinction.
Butterflies have been particularly hard hit with numbers of butterflies down by 23%. The numbers of species, such as the High Brown Fritillary and Grayling, that require more specialised habitats have declined by more than three quarters.
England’s mammals also fare badly with greater than 27% of species at risk of disappearing altogether. The Red Squirrel and Greater Mouse-eared Bat are among those species teetering on the edge of disappearing.
Much is known about the causes of decline and about some of the ways in which we could reduce impacts and help struggling species. The evidence from the last 50 years shows that significant and ongoing changes in the way we manage our land for agriculture, and the ongoing effects of climate change are having the biggest impacts on nature.
Pollution is also a major issue. Whilst emissions of many pollutants have been reduced dramatically in recent decades, pollution continues to have a severe impact on the UK’s sensitive habitats and freshwaters, and new pollutant threats are continuing to emerge.
Daniel Hayhow, lead author on the report, said “We know more about the UK’s wildlife than any other country on the planet, and what it is telling us should make us sit up and listen. We need to respond more urgently across the board if we are to put nature back where it belongs. Governments, conservation groups and individuals must continue to work together to help restore our land and sea for wildlife and people in a way that is both ambitious and inspiring for future generations”
“In this report we have drawn on the best available data on the UK’s biodiversity, produced by partnerships between conservation NGOs, research institutes, UK and national governments, and thousands of dedicated volunteers. It’s through working together that we can help nature recover but the battle must intensify.”
Whilst the data that the report shows are alarming there is also cause for some cautious hope. The report showcases a wide range of exciting conservation initiatives, with partnerships delivering inspiring results for some of the UK’s nature. Species such as Bitterns and Large Blue Butterfly have been saved through the concerted efforts of organisations and individuals.
Reflecting growing concern about the environmental and climate emergencies, public support for conservation also continues to grow, with NGO expenditure up by 26% since 2010/11 and time donated by volunteers having increased by 40% since 2000. However, public sector expenditure on biodiversity in the UK, as a proportion of GDP, has fallen by 42% since a peak in 2008/09.
The report has a foreword by a collective of young conservationists who are passionate about conservation and the future of our wildlife and nature to preserve it for future generations.
Sophie Pavelle, a young conservationist said “What a huge wake-up call 2019 has been! I have felt the loss of nature more acutely this year than any other. A dawn chorus less deafening, hedgerows less frantic, bizarre, worrying weather…it seems that in a more complex world nature is tired, muted and confused. People protect what they love, and if we can find quirky, empowering ways to encourage young people to connect with nature emotionally and see it as something they can truly champion - only then can we dig deep to find real hope for a brighter, sustained future for our natural world.”
Julian Roughton, Suffolk Wildlife Trust CEO said "The State of Nature 2019 report shows us that nature is in big trouble. It’s not all bleak as we can celebrate conservation successes such as Bittern, Barn Owl and Fen Raft Spider. But the continued decline of formerly commonplace species, like Skylark and Yellowhammer, are a huge concern as are the loss of insects and pollinators. Local action is making a difference but government needs to play its part by bringing in an Environment Act. We need a Nature Recovery Network established in law to join up and create habitats so that wildlife can thrive across our landscapes and enrich all our lives."
For a full copy of the State of Nature 2019 report and to find out how you can do your bit to save UK wildlife – www.nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019