Most of UK species in decline

7th June 2013

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  • Natural resources ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Ecosystems



Sixty per cent of UK species are in decline and more than 10% are under threat of disappearing altogether, finds a new report from a consortium of 25 wildlife and conservation organisations

The “state of nature” report reveals that the UK’s nature is in trouble and we are losing wildlife at an alarming rate, said lead author Dr Mark Eaton. “These declines are happening across all countries and UK overseas territories, habitats and species groups.”

The study examined more than 3,000 species and found that 60% had declined over the past 50 years and 31% had declined strongly. Half of the species assessed showed strong changes in abundance or distribution, indicating that recent environmental changes are having a dramatic impact on the nature of the UK’s land and seas.

Television presenter David Attenborough labelled the report a “stark warning”, and said: “Far more species are declining than increasing in the UK, including many of our most treasured species. The causes are varied, but most are ultimately due to the way we are using our land and seas and their natural resources, often with little regard for the wildlife with which we share them.”

There is only quantitative information available for around 5% of the 59,000 or so terrestrial and freshwater species in the UK, and very little quantitative information for its 8,500 marine species, so the true extent of the decline in species could be greater.

“Our knowledge is strongly biased towards vertebrates and we know little about the fortunes of many invertebrates and fungi. Much needs to be done to improve our knowledge,” concludes the report.

Separate data from Defra, reporting on its natural environment indicators for England, confirms that many species in the countryside, including bats, butterflies and woodland birds, are deteriorating.

The environment department claims, however, that some of the 943 priority species of principal importance for the conservation of biological diversity are showing signs of improvement, with 183 recorded either as stable or increasing.

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