Deterioration of natural assets slowing

8th May 2013

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  • Natural resources ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Ecosystems



The decline of habitats, protected species and ecosystems services in England has stabilised, and in some cases been reversed in recent years, according to Defra

The environment department has published its analysis of the state of England’s natural environment, revealing that over the last decade there have been tangible improvements in the status of some natural assets.

According to Defra’s assessment, there was a 12% increase in the number of priority species recorded as stable and increasing between 2002 and 2008, and a 33% rise in the number of priority habitats recorded as stable or improving between 2002 and 2010.

Defra says England’s bat population has grown 18% since 2000, following long-term deterioration in numbers. It also reports some improvement in water quality, both in terms of litter in marine ecosystems and chemical pollution found in rivers.

The department’s analysis also confirms that the condition of species, such as woodland birds and butterflies, has been relatively stable in recent years, following significant declines in numbers over the preceding decades.

However, other measures reveal continuing deterioration in species, such as breeding wetland birds.

The figures form part of in Defra’s first assessment of England’s natural environment against indicators set last year.

The environment department has examined 24 indicators, including levels of water abstraction, numbers of breeding seabirds and the consumption of raw materials to provide a picture of the condition of England’s natural environment.

Overall, Defra’s analysis reveals that, over the long-term (with data from as far back as 1970s), six of the measures have shown improvement,, while seven have deteriorated. But short-term data, collected over the last 3-10 years, confirms improvements in 10 measures and a deterioration in five.

A further eight indicators, including how businesses are incorporating natural capital into their activities, were not assessed as they are still under development.

The next assessment will take place in 2014.

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