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More than a quarter of UK birds face extinction risk or steep decline

More than a quarter of UK birds, including the puffin, nightingale and curlew, require urgent conservation efforts to ensure their survival, according to a new report on the state of the UK’s birds.

Since the last review in 2009, an additional 15 species of bird have been placed on the “red list”, a category that indicates a species is in danger of extinction or that has experienced significant decline in population or habitat in recent years. The total number of species on the red list is now 67 out of a total of 247.

On top of this, eight species are considered at risk of global extinction: the balearic shearwater, aquatic warbler, common pochard, long-tailed duck, velvet scoter, slavonian grebe, puffin and turtle dove.

“We’ve been putting these reports out since 1999 – I think it is one of the worst we’ve seen,” said David Noble, one of the authors of the State of the UK’s Birds study and principal ecologist for monitoring at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Noble said a variety of factors led to the classification of an increased number of species in danger, including land use change, such as afforestation and drainage of fields for farmland, and increased numbers of predators, such as foxes. He also pointed to the global impacts of climate change, which affect migratory birds.

The report is produced by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds(RSPB), the BTO and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, in partnership with the UK’s statutory nature conservation bodies. It collates material from other studies and bird surveys to give a thorough report on the status of various avian species.

There is particular concern among conservationists for the curlew, Europe’s largest wader, which has seen a population decline of 64% from 1970 to 2014 in the UK, largely due to habitat loss. The UK supports up to 27% of the global curlew population, and due to its “near threatened” global status, a research plan has been created to help understand the causes of the species’ decline.

Curlew (Numenius arquata) population in the UK has declined 64% from 1970 to 2014, largely due to habitat loss.
Curlew ( Numenius arquata) population in the UK has declined 64% from 1970 to 2014, largely due to habitat loss. Photograph: Thomas Hanahoe/Alamy Stock Photo

“Curlews are instantly recognisable on winter estuaries or summer moors by their striking long, curved beak, long legs and evocative call,” said Dr Daniel Hayhow, conservation scientist at the RSPB. “They are one of our most charismatic birds and also one of our most important.”

There was good news in the report for some species, including the golden eagle, whose numbers have increased 15% since 2003, and for cirl buntings, which now have more than 1,000 breeding pairs, up from 118 in 1989. Another success story is the red kite, once one of the UK’s most threatened species, which is now on the green list – the lowest level of concern – after years of efforts by conservationists.

Noble said the improvement in the red kite and golden eagle population had to do with a slow rebuilding of populations that had been decimated by attacks from people keen to protect their grouse moors and egg collectors taking their eggs.

In the case of the red kite, he said monitoring of nest sites and the reintroduction of the birds into new areas of the UK were reasons for the recovery of the species.

“Now they’ve spread right across the UK from the strongholds they were reduced to in Wales and some parts of Scotland. Now you can see them in East Anglia occasionally,” he said.

In addition to these successes, a number of species, such as the bittern and nightjar, have moved from the red list to the amber list. Species are placed on the amber list if they are considered at threat of European extinction or have seen a moderate decline in population or habitat. An additional 22 species have moved from the amber to the green list.

Article taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/11/more-than-a-quarter-of-uk-birds-face-extinction-risk-or-steep-decline-study

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Bid to put an end to the brutal slaughter of foxes for fun once and for all

Legal loopholes that have enabled hunters to continue killing foxes are to be closed at last say campaigners

Cutefox

Loopholes allowing fox hunters to flout the law and slaughter animals could be closed.

The Scottish Government has said it will look at strengthening legislation which was intended to bring an end to fox hunting in Scotland.

However, get-out clauses in the Wild Mammals Act 2002 mean that rather than bring the practice to an end, at least ten hunts are still in operation.

A review by Lord Bonomy has concluded that the legislation needs revised and strengthened.

He suggested that the main loophole that allows hunting to continue, flushing foxes with packs of hounds towards guns, could be interpreted as a cover to allow traditional hunts to take place.

His report also suggested that a code of conduct be developed and a system of independent hunt monitoring be implemented.

Now the Scottish Government has opened a consultation on his proposals, a move which has been welcomed by animal rights groups.

Harry Huyton, director of OneKind, said: “The commitment by the Scottish Government to strengthen the Act takes us one step closer to ending this cruel practice once and for all.

“OneKind welcomed Lord Bonomy’s report and we hope to see all of his recommendations implemented as soon as possible. Ministers must also consider what further action is needed to end fox hunting in Scotland for good, starting with closing the loophole in the law that allows fox hunting to continue under the guise of pest control.”

“Our priority is a real hunting ban in Scotland, but in the meantime voluntary measures and independent monitoring of hunts could be useful interim measures. We look forward to contributing to this process to ensure that these measures protect foxes as much as possible.

“Closing the loopholes and banning fox hunting in Scotland for real should be an urgent imperative for the Scottish Government. Not only is fox hunting cruel, but the fact that it continues 15 years after it was supposedly banned undermines Scotland’s reputation as a leader in animal welfare.”

Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, said: “This is a good first step in making the law which prevents wild mammals being hunted, chased and killed for sport clearer and more suited to its intended purpose. We agree with Lord Bonomy that hunts are using exemptions within the current legislation as a decoy for continuing with traditional hunting practices and that their activities are incidental to pest control.

“We all thought the act would put a stop to hunting but sadly this wasn’t the case and we now look to the Government to keep the momentum going, following Lord Bonomy’s review, to progress towards a situation where hunting in Scotland is really banned.”

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am determined to ensure the highest possible levels of animal welfare and Lord Bonomy’s recommendations will help us build on the advances already achieved.

“This package of measures will substantially improve the language used in the existing legislation, address inconsistencies in the law, and strengthen the scrutiny and accountability of hunts.”

Article taken from: http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/tfn-news/fox-slaughter

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HSE under fire in hare coursing row

A HSE-run centre for people with disabilities has caused outrage by involving vulnerable service users in the controversial sport of hare coursing.

The controversial activity has been facilitated by Ballina Training Centre, which provides therapeutic programmes and services for people with intellectual disabilities in Co Mayo.

It has emerged that staff and service users have been involved in training greyhounds for hare coursing and have even attended coursing events.

The HSE, which funds and runs Ballina Training Centre, has confirmed that the service has been supporting the activity for clients but added that this support did not constitute an endorsement or approval of hare coursing.

Minister for Health Simon Harris will face questions about the matter in the Dáil this week from Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan, who said that she was “appalled” that public resources were being used to expose vulnerable individuals to the controversial activity.

She added: “The coursing events they attended are the very places where independent documentary evidence of cruelty has been collected. It is absolutely outrageous.”

A recent issue of an internal publication called Mayo Mental Health News contained an article outlining the involvement of staff and service users of Ballina Training Centre in hare coursing.

The article stated that two greyhounds had been purchased and were being trained for coursing by staff and service users. It also referred to hare coursing as “the interesting new pastime offered by the Centre” and provided details of two “outings” to coursing meetings last year in Liscannor, Co Clare and Loughrea, Co Galway.

A spokesperson for the Irish Council Against Blood Sports called for the project to cease immediately, adding: “The idea of bringing vulnerable people to hare-coursing meetings to watch hares being used as live bait for greyhounds is outrageous. It is a totally inappropriate project for the HSE to be involved in.”

The HSE initially denied that the activity was being facilitated at the Centre and claimed that it “does not and has never run a hare coursing activity for its service users”.

However, when evidence of the Centre’s involvement in the activity was presented, a HSE spokesperson confirmed the described activity was supported by the service.

The spokesman said: “The activities described were identified and developed solely by service users…The nature of such community-based activities are the prerogative of the individual(s) and is supported by the service only in the context of fostering recovery and promoting mental health.

“The support of clients by staff in their wellbeing and recovery does not constitute an endorsement or approval of any such activity.”

To take action, email  or sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/stop-health-service-project-involving-people-with-intellectual-disabilities-in-hare-coursing

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Bird species vanish from UK due to climate change and habitat loss

Rising temperatures and crop farming mean birds are disappearing from parts of England, says study, while butterflies and dragonflies are faring better

Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis) have disappeared from sites in south england.
Meadow pipit have disappeared from sites in the south of England. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Climate change has already led to the vanishing of some bird species in parts of England, where intensively farmed land gives them no room to adapt to warming temperatures. The revelation, in a new scientific study, contradicts previous suggestions that birds are tracking global warming by shifting their ranges.

The research found that birds that prefer cooler climes, such as meadow pipits, willow tits and willow warblers, have disappeared from sites in south-east England and East Anglia, where intensive crop growing is common.

“Birds are facing a double-edged sword from climate change and declines in habitat quality,” said Tom Oliver, at the University of Reading, who led the new study. “In England, birds really look like they are struggling to cope with climate change. They are already being hit with long-term reductions in habitat quality and, for the cold-associated birds, those losses are being further exacerbated by climate change.”

“Climate change is with us, here and now, and its effects on wildlife are increasingly well documented,” said Mike Morecroft, principal climate change specialist at Natural England, and part of the research team.

Simon Gillings, at the British Trust for Ornithology, and another member of the research team, said: “Intensive [land] management is making it harder for cold-associated birds to find cool corners of sites, or to disperse away from warming regions.”

But Oliver noted that showing the impact of climate change on wildlife is affected by the availability of good habitats means action can be taken: “We are not completely at the mercy of climate change.” Creating larger natural areas in strategic places will help species cope with a changing climate, the scientists said.

A family of willow warblers at a summer nest site in Scotland.
A family of willow warblers at a summer nest site in Scotland. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The study, published in Global Change Biology, analysed both bird and butterfly data from more than 600 sites monitored between 1964 and 2009. It found butterflies were adapting much better to climate change than birds, although cold-associated butterfly species also suffered if the area around the site was poor in natural habitat.

But while many of the butterfly species that enjoy warmer weather were thriving, birds associated with warmer temperatures were not, due to lost or degraded habitat.

Oliver said butterflies were faring better as they require much smaller areas of natural land, which are more likely to be available. Good habitat means more suitable food plants and more microclimates in which species can thrive in good years and survive in poor ones.

The ringlet butterfly, for example, suffers badly in drought years. But they can hang on if there are patches of broadleaf woodland available, as these resist droughts and keep soils more moist than treeless landscapes.

Butterflies can also produce many generations in a single year when conditions are favourable, whereas birds reproduce more slowly. The small copper butterfly can have up to five generations a year, Oliver said.

The large white-faced darter is one of eleven new dragonfly species to arrive in Britain since 1995. It made its first ever appearance in 2012.
The large white-faced darter is one of eleven new dragonfly species to arrive in Britain since 1995. It made its first appearance in 2012. Photograph: Christophe Brochard/British Dragonfly Society

Like butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies are generally adapting well to climate change and warming has brought 11 new species to Britain since 1995, according to a new report from the British Dragonfly Society. Newcomers include the stunning large white-faced darter and Genevieve Dalley, at the BDS, said: “These unprecedented events currently happening in the dragonfly world are exciting but also act as a warning: the natural world is changing.”

But global warming is also threatening the northern damselfly, restricted to a few small lochs in Scotland, and the black darter, which is becoming less common in the south of Britain.

The scientists conducting the bird and butterfly research determined the temperature favoured by each species by looking at the average warmth of their ranges across Europe, with those preferring heat found mostly in southern Europe and vice versa.

Stopping the destruction of habitat such as hedgerows and old orchards and creating new nature reserves can give opportunities for wildlife to adapt to global warming said Oliver. But biodiversity across England continues to fall, he said, despite a landmark review of wildlife sites for the government in 2010.

A field planted of winter wheat in Suffolk.
Meadow pipits, willow tits and willow warblers have disappeared from sites in East Anglia due to crop farming. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“That report called for a step change in nature conservation,” said Oliver. “We are still waiting for that step change and until we see it we can’t really expect the fortunes of our wildlife to change.”

Richard Bradbury at the RSPB and not involved in the new research said: “Making use of the tremendously rich wildlife data collected by dedicated UK volunteer observers, this study provides further compelling evidence that climate change is already affecting the UK’s species.”

A major report in 2015 found that one in six of the world’s species faces extinction due to climate change unless action is taken to cut carbon emissions rapidly.

Article taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/11/birds-vanish-england-climate-change-habitat-loss

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Hopes for saving Scottish wildcat rest on captive breeding plan

Conservationists say about 80 creatures in zoos and private collections hold key to re-establishment of the endangered species

A Scottish wildcat in the snow.
The Scottish wildcat is listed as critically endangered. Photograph: National Trust for Scotland/PA 

Fewer than 100 Scottish wildcats are now believed to exist in the wild, say leading experts, with no evidence of any decent sized populations anywhere in the country.

While it had been hoped up to 300 may still survive, recent extensive monitoring suggests a lower figure, with individuals or small groups clinging on in isolated and fragmented pockets.

Hopes for saving the species, often referred to as the “tiger of the Highlands”, now largely rest on captive breeding and rewilding, said conservationists, who are working with experts who successfully brought the Iberian lynx back from the brink in Spain and Portugal.

About 80 captive wildcats in zoos, wildlife parks and private collections around the UK now hold the key to the successful re-establishment of viable populations of the muscular brown and black-striped cat, which resembles a domestic tabby.

Genetic testing of all those captive cats was completed in October. Data is now being fed into a new molecular stud book, similar to that used for the giant panda, which will determine which captive cats are related and which are best matched for breeding.

Once the stud book is operational, in the coming months, it will help establish a quantity of the highest quality genetically diverse cats. Mixed with genes from cats already in the wild, through artificial insemination or through capture of the most vulnerable cats, it will produce a population of wildcats suitable for release into the wild.

It is hoped the first trial releases will happen within five years.

The Scottish wildcat is listed as critically endangered. “Next is extinct in the wild and the next is extinct full stop,” said David Barclay, who manages the conservation breeding programme at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, one of several agencies involved in the Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA) conservation plan, backed by Scottish National Heritage.

The main threat has been hybridisation – breeding with feral or domestic cats. Those in the wild tend to have less gene purity than captive cats not exposed to hybridisation.

“The population of wildcats estimated in the wild is horribly low,” said Barclay. One estimate, within the last five years, put the number between 100-300. “To be honest, I think it is under 100,” said Barclay.

Recent camera trap monitoring of six priority sites, thought to be ideal wildcat habitat, revealed just 19 possible cats out of 200,000 images, said Vicky Burns of the SWA.

Captive cats selected for possible release will be transferred to special conservation breeding enclosures. A prototype is currently being tested at the Highland wildlife park within the Cairngorms national park. Placed at least half a mile from the nearest paths, out of view of the public, these large enclosures will gradually allow the cats to be rewilded.

Pairing wild cats with captive cats will introduce wild behaviour, and the gradual introduction of live prey will trigger instinct and perfect skills, it is hoped. Human contact will be at an absolute minimum, with the cats spending up to two years in the enclosures, and their kittens better equipped for wilderness survival.

The breeding plan is not without its critics, who claim capturing wildcats and introducing them to captive cats will kill off the wild population.

Barclay said there was a lack of understanding about the project, and the facts spoke for themselves.

No wildcats would be captured in the six priority areas for fear of harming any populations there. Instead, semen would be taken from adult males. In less hospitable areas, where an isolated cat might be spotted on private land, it made sense to remove it.

“If there is a wildcat just clinging on, surrounded by feral cats, and at high risk from other issues, we want to bring it into captivity, wrap it up in cotton wool and for it to be beneficial to the captive population and a source for further animals that can be released in future,” he said.

“Without the safety net of the captive population, and the semen samples stored, then the future of wildcats is incredibly bleak. I honestly think these insurance policies are the only ones that are going to save the species.”

Along with the planned releases, SWA is undertaking a vast programme neutering feral cats in the priority areas. This would continue. There is evidence from Europe that once a sizable wildcat population is established – perhaps 40 or 50 cats – feral cats stay away, thus reducing future risk of hybridisation.

Another measure is exploring a change in Scottish legislation. Dogs must now have microchips, so one option would be to extend that to domestic cats.

Saving the wildcat will not be cheap. There is Scottish government and lottery funding of £2.5m over five years for initial research and rewilding, but costs will be ongoing. The hope is it will boost local economies and bring in tourist pounds, as well as put Scotland on the global map as a leader in conservation.

“As a country we want to be able to say we care about our landscape, we care about our environment, about the diversity. We do want to conserve our native species, we don’t want to have a country a bit like Australia that has been overrun with no native animals,” said Barclay.

“When we make the decision we don’t really care about our wildlife, or we don’t want to do that project because it is too controversial or it costs too much money, then we are bordering on giving up on the environment in Scotland,” he said.

Article taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/26/hopes-for-saving-scottish-wildcat-rest-on-captive-breeding-plan

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Beavers back for good in Scotland

(Adult beaver at Knapdale by Steve Gardner)

The two lead partners in the Scottish Beaver Trial – the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust – have warmly welcomed today’s (24 November 2016) announcement from the Scottish Government that the Eurasian beaver is to be formally recognised as a native species, 400 years after being hunted to extinction in the UK.

Returning beavers to Scotland’s lochs and rivers is the first formal mammal reintroduction in UK history. Today’s announcement is a major success story for conservation, and the culmination of nearly two decades’ work.

The project partners are delighted to be given the green light to reinforce the existing population in Knapdale, Argyll, and welcome the news that the established population on the River Tay will be allowed to remain in place. However, in order for the species to have a long-term future in Scotland and recolonise across much of its former range, further releases – following the Scottish Translocation Code and with the full support of a range of stakeholders – will be necessary over the next few years.

The Scottish Beaver Trial has set the standard for species reintroductions in the UK. Today’s announcement from the Scottish Government underlines the widespread benefits beavers can bring both to habitats, other species and the local economy.

These benefits include creating new wetlands that support a wide range of other species such as otters, water voles, fish and dragonflies; creating more diverse woodlands through naturally coppicing trees; and helping to regulate flooding and improve water quality. An increase in beavers is also certain to boost wildlife tourism in Scotland, helping to grow a sector that is already worth £127 million per year to our economy.

(Beaver at Loch of the Lowes by Ron Walsh)

The project partners recognise that beaver activity needs to be carefully monitored and managed, particularly where it impacts on other land uses. RZSS and the Scottish Wildlife Trust are committed to working closely with government, farmers, landowners and other key stakeholders to establish an effective management framework for the species, something which we would seek to put in place ahead of the next breeding season in March.

Barbara Smith, Chief Executive of RZSS, said: “Today is a truly historic day for Scottish conservation. Returning a keystone species to the wild for the first time in 400 years is a tremendous achievement for RZSS and our partners the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and we welcome the government’s commitment to the species both in Knapdale and further afield.

“Establishing a clear and comprehensive management plan for the species should now be our top priority, drawing upon IUCN best practice guidelines and bringing together stakeholders from across the conservation, land management and farming spectrum. We would urge government to take a lead on this issue and firm up plans ahead of the breeding season next spring.

“We also feel strongly that further release sites will need to be considered in the short- to medium-term if the species is to fully re-establish itself as part of the Scottish landscape.”

Jonathan Hughes, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “This is a major milestone for Scotland’s wildlife and the wider conservation movement. Beavers are one of the world’s best natural engineers. Their ability to create new wetlands and restore native woodland is remarkable and improves conditions for a wide range of species including dragonflies, otters and fish.

“The return of beavers also has great potential for education and wildlife tourism. We have already seen at Knapdale how their presence is a tremendous draw for visitors from all over the world, which in turn brings social and economic benefits to the rural economy.

“We’re now looking forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government and partners in the next phase of this initiative. The Scottish Beaver Trial is a textbook example of how to approach the reintroduction of a keystone species that should set the standard for future projects.”

The Scottish Beaver Trial was a five-year partnership project between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and host Forestry Commission Scotland to undertake a time-limited, five-year trial reintroduction of Eurasian beavers to Knapdale, Mid-Argyll. It concluded in 2014.

Article taken from: http://www.rzss.org.uk/news/article/12236/beavers-back-for-good/

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Nature loss linked to farming intensity

More than 50 conservation groups say the “policy-driven” intensification of farming is a significant driver of nature loss in the UK.

The State of Nature report assessed 8,000 UK species and found that one in 10 are threatened with extinction.

More than half of farmland birds (56%) including the turtle dove and corn bunting are in danger of extinction.

The National Farmers Union said the report ignored progress made by farmers on conservation in the last 25 years.

Mark Eaton is the lead author of the paper. He said: “We now know that farming practices over recent decades have had the single largest impact on the UK’s wildlife.

“The great majority of that impact has been negative. This isn’t deliberate, it is a by-product of changes in farming to make it more efficient.”

‘Squeezed out’

“There have been big changes in farming which has made it much more efficient. This is great for putting food on the table. But nature has been squeezed out. Our research for the first time has quantified that.”

Farmland makes up three quarters of the UK’s landscape. The report assessed the risk of extinction for 1,118 farmland species. Of 26 bird species almost half (46%) are in danger of going extinct including the corn bunting and the turtle dove and their numbers are still declining. Skylark numbers are down 60% since 1970.

Plants, insects and butterflies have also suffered, with the abundance of butterfly species such as the high brown fritillary having diminished by 57% since 1990.

High brown fritillary on plant

Some 12% of farmland species are now on the Red List, including plants such as the Shepherd-needle and corn marigolds.

Mr Eaton pointed to the increasing use of pesticides and herbicides, increased fertiliser use, the loss of hedgerows from farms and changing farming practices.

Crops are now mostly sown in autumn instead of spring, and this has had a negative impact on some birds, although it has been good for other species, such as the woodpigeon.

“A lot of these things we can’t go back on. Autumn-sowing is much better for farmers, so we can’t expect them to change tack. But we need to find a way within these new systems – finding the tweaks that will let nature back in. We don’t want to go back to Constable country, we know it’s not possible.”

“We do know that farming and nature can co-exist. There are agri-environment schemes – farmers can farm in environmentally friendly ways. So we can do both.”

National Farmers Union (NFU) vice-president Guy Smith said: “As the report acknowledges, agricultural policies of the past did focus on maximising food production, resulting in the intensification of farming in the years after World War II.

‘Demand for food’

“However, since the early 1990s, in terms of inputs and in terms of numbers of livestock and area of crops grown British agriculture has not intensified – in fact it’s the reverse. Therefore it makes little sense to attribute cause and effect to ‘the intensification of agriculture’ in the UK in the last quarter of a century when there hasn’t been any.

“Other causes acknowledged in the report, such as urbanisation, climate change or increasing predator pressure need greater attention.”

The NFU says that farmers have planted or restored 30,000km of hedgerows, and given over the borders of their fields to plant wildflowers for birds and bees. It adds that it is “using less fertiliser and pesticides than ever”.

Mr Smith also pointed out the fundamental need for farmers to produce food. “There is now a high degree of academic consensus that the world will also need to increase food production significantly to meet the needs of a growing population.

“This increased demand for food will have to be met using finite agricultural land, while our climate continues to change, which will inevitably place further constraints on production in many parts of the world.”

Hay field at dawn

Attenborough: ‘Our nature is in serious trouble’

In a foreword to the report, Sir David Attenborough said: “Escalating pressures such as climate change and modern land management mean we continue to lose the precious wildlife that enriches our lives and is essential to the health and well-being of those who live in the UK, and also its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. Our wonderful nature is in serious trouble and needs our help as never before.”

Among the 50 conservation and research organisations that have contributed to the report are the National Trust, Buglife, Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB. It was the last State of Nature report in 2013 that highlighted the dramatic loss in wildlife from the countryside: turtle dove numbers having fallen by over 90% since 1970, and hedgehog numbers declining by a third since the turn of the century. Three years later, the picture is almost as bleak. The report states: “There was no statistical difference – no change in the proportion of species threatened with extinction.”


The State of Nature report does not go into detail on the EU subsidy system, but blames the current damage being done to nature on “policy-driven” intensification.

Fiona Mathews, chair of the Mammal Society and associate professor at the University of Exeter, and an author of the report, said: “The reality is that our human population is expanding and we need urgently to work out how we can live alongside our wildlife.”

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of BugLife, said: “Government investment in wildlife conservation has dropped by a third in the last six years. This makes it even more crucial that the wishes of the public are respected and Brexit results in the maintenance of current wildlife protection and the introduction of new environmental framework legislation that will set the foundation for reversing wildlife loss.”

‘Broken’ system

The National Trust, one of the charities involved in this report, believes that Brexit provides an opportunity to reform the current “broken” system. Subsidies should be maintained but wildlife and the environment should be put at the centre of how this public money should be handed out.

Tim Breitmeyer, from the Countryside Land and Business Association, said: “As we start to develop policy for a UK outside of the EU, it is critical that a proper understanding is established between farmers and environmental groups. As landowners, our starting point is clear: only a profitable, resilient farming sector can realistically invest time and resource in environmental management.”

Marine plant species and also some vertebrates such as small fish are faring slightly better. Almost 70% of the species surveyed are increasing in number. However, marine invertebrates such as plankton are suffering – with 75% of species declining.

The report also highlighted the “many inspiring examples of conservation action that is helping to turn the tide”, such as restoration and reintroduction projects.

The authors also assessed British species found in woods, moors and mountains and in freshwater and marine environments.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37298485