Over half our wildlife species have declined, says new State of Nature report

The second State of Nature report reveals that over half of UK wildlife species have declined over recent decades. We’re playing our part in restoring nature at our places.

High Brown Fritillary butterfly, Heddon Valley. This species is perhaps the UK's most threatened butterfly ©National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

High Brown Fritillary butterfly at Heddon Valley. The High Brown Fritillary is one of Britain’s most threatened butterflies. ©National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

The report, published three years on from the first State of Nature report, reveals that 56% of UK species studied have declined over the past 50 years.

Of almost 8,000 species assessed by the report, one in ten are at risk of disappearing from our shores altogether.

The report has been compiled by the State of Nature partnership, a coalition of 53 conservation charities and research organisations.

For the first time, leading experts have been able to identify and quantify the main reasons why the UK’s nature is changing.

They argue that changes in farming practices is the leading factor in wildlife’s decline over the last 50 years. Climate change is another important factor, although it was found to have benefited some wildlife species.

Wildlife habitats have been lost, soils have become depleted and flood and drought impacts have increased.

“We need to ensure that wildlife has space to move through our countryside. Many farmers are already making positive changes, benefiting wildlife on their farms. But, as a nation, we can do more.”

David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust

Read the latest State of Nature report

 

Pulsatilla vulgaris (pasque flower) at Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire. A lack of suitable grazing regimes to maintain short grassland turf, has led to a 50% decline in the number of sites suitable for the pasque flower since the mid-20th century ©National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

Pulsatilla vulgaris (pasque flower) at Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire. A lack of suitable grazing regimes to maintain short grassland turf, has led to a 50% decline in the number of sites suitable for the pasque flower since the mid-20th century ©National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

The state of nature – what we’re doing about it

Working with our tenant farmers, supporters and partners, we’re helping restore healthy, beautiful and productive landscapes that are rich in nature.

Find out more about our work to restore wildlife in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Recently we called on Government to put the recovery and future resilience of the natural environment at the heart of any funding system that replaces the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) now that the UK has voted to leave the European Union.

Whether inside or outside the single market, Britain will no longer be part of the CAP.  This poses an opportunity to design a system that delivers more benefits for nature and people from taxpayers’ money spent on subsidies.  It also offers the opportunity to help develop new markets to reward farmers for storing carbon, preventing floods and promoting biodiversity.

We’re working with Green Alliance on a new project identify these new markets: exploring how to build economic resilience and create new income streams from land to ensure its long term sustainable management.  We don’t think that profitable land management and the health of the natural environment have to be traded off against each other.  Under the right conditions, market-based approaches can actually support improvements to nature.

 

 

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