Sixty per cent of UK species in decline, groundbreaking study finds

State of Nature ReportState of Nature Report

UK nature is in trouble – that is the conclusion of a groundbreaking report published today by a coalition of leading conservation and research organisations.


Scientists working side-by-side from 25 wildlife organisations have compiled a stock take of our native species – the first of its kind in the UK. The report reveals that 60% of the species studied have declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.

The State of Nature report will be launched by Sir David Attenborough and UK conservation charities at the Natural History Museum in London this evening (Wednesday, May 22), while simultaneous events will be held in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

Sir David Attenborough said: “This groundbreaking report is a stark warning – but it is also a sign of hope.

“For 60 years I have travelled the world exploring the wonders of nature and sharing that wonder with the public. But as a boy my first inspiration came from discovering the UK’s own wildlife.

“Wales features some of the most beautiful unspoilt landscapes in Britain and is home to many wildlife species. It was here in the mountains that the red kite mounted its comeback across the country after decades of persecution, while the rugged west coast features a range of wildlife spectacles including gannets, puffins, grey seals and dolphins.

“This report shows that our species are in trouble, with many declining at a worrying rate. However, we have in this country a network of passionate conservation groups supported by millions of people who love wildlife. The experts have come together today to highlight the amazing nature we have around us and to ensure that it remains here for generations to come.”

Dr Mark Eaton, a lead author on the report, said: “This report reveals that the UK’s nature is in trouble - overall we are losing wildlife at an alarming rate.

“These declines are happening across all countries and UK Overseas Territories, habitats and species groups, although it is probably greatest amongst insects, such as our moths, butterflies and beetles. Other once common species like the lesser spotted woodpecker, barbastelle bat and hedgehog are vanishing before our eyes.

“Reliable data on these species goes back just fifty years, at most, but we know that there has been a historical pattern of loss in the UK going back even further. Threats including sweeping habitat loss, changes to the way we manage our countryside, and the more recent impact of climate change, have had a major impact on our wildlife, and they are not going away.

“None of this work would have been possible without the army of volunteer wildlife enthusiasts who spend their spare time surveying species and recording their findings. Our knowledge of nature in the UK would be significantly poorer without these unsung heroes. And that knowledge is the most essential tool that conservationists have.”

Gemma Bodé, Conservation Manager at Gwent Wildlife Trust said “The State of Nature Report does make quite depressing reading but we can turn things around - through the hard work of conservation organisations like the Wildlife Trust’s we can bring nature back. With support from our members and grant organisations we have been able to re-introduce one of the UK’s most threatened mammals – the water vole, at our Magor Marsh Nature Reserve. This is a real success story to build upon.”  Please support our work.


Key facts and figures from the State of Nature Report
• Of 1,064 farmland species for which we have trends, 60% have decreased and 34% have decreased strongly.
• Overall, 65% of the 923 species for which we have sufficient data have declined, and 35% have declined strongly. A warming climate may be helping some species.
• More species have become extinct in the uplands than in any other habitat
• Of the 1,256 woodland species studied, 60% have decreased and 34% have decreased strongly.
• 13% of coastal plant species are regarded as threatened with extinction in the UK.
• 57% of freshwater and wetland species for which we have sufficient data have declined, and 28% have declined strongly.
• 75% of EU fish stocks continue to be overfished. Skates and rays are no longer viable commercial species in many areas.
 

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