Nature in the UK is in trouble – that is the conclusion of a groundbreaking report published today by a coalition of leading charities and research organisations.
Scientists working side-by-side from 25 wildlife organisations including the RSPB, Marine Conservation Society and the Association of British Fungus Groups 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.
“Our islands have a rich diversity of habitats which support some truly amazing plants and animals. We should all be proud of the beauty we find on our own doorstep; from bluebells carpeting woodland floors and delicately patterned fritillary butterflies, to the graceful basking shark and the majestic golden eagle soaring over the Scottish mountains.
“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.”
The State of Nature coalition includes the following partners
· Amphibian & Reptile Conservation
· Association of British Fungus Groups
· Bat Conservation Trust
· Biological Records Centre
· Botanical Society of the British Isles
· British Bryological Society
· British Lichen Society
· British Mycological Society
· British Trust for Ornithology
· Bumblebee Conservation Trust
· Butterfly Conservation
· Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
· The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
· Mammal Society
· Marine Biological Association
· Marine Conservation Society
· NBN Gateway
· People’s Trust for Endangered Species
· Pond Conservation
· Rothamsted Research
· Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
· The Wildlife Trusts