What The State of Nature Report means for UK wildlife
The report also discovered that 56% of UK wildlife, including British Hedgehogs, Robins and Basking Sharks, has been in serious decline since the 1970s.
Sir David Attenborough said that “Our nature is in trouble, and it needs our help like never before.”
Animals ranging from Dormice to Bats are experiencing huge drops in numbers, the report shows. Bat expert Kiki DeAngelis claims the findings to be “simply tragic.”
One explanation suggests that an “out of sight, out of mind mentality” from people has allowed wildlife across the British Isles to suffer so dramatically. DeAngelis said that “nature need not be seen as separate from human lives but rather a part of it… We need to wake up.”
The main factors influencing UK wildlife populations are:
Drainage of wetlands
Poor forest management
EU wildlife regulations
Help is on the way, however, in the form of volunteers, wildlife conservation charities and nature reserves.
A significant finding from the report showed that wildlife in protected areas actually saw an increase in key wildlife populations, such as Harvest Mice and Dartford Warblers.
This trend has been recorded in Nottingham’s Idle Valley Nature Reserve by wildlife ranger Ian O’Brian. Meanwhile, Scottish wildlife photographer and conservationist Andy Hare said that "unfortunately, humans are the problem. We are just too dominant, we put too much pressure on the ecosystem."
This view was strongly supported by the report, which cited agriculture and climate change as the two biggest factors contributing to the wildlife decline.
The report also explains that wildlife cannot contend with the rapid habitat loss in the UK which has been accelerated by more roads being introduced into Green Belt land.
In terms of aquatic life, the report highlights the growing threat from plastic and how it can easily be mistaken for food.
On land, invasive species have been blamed for declining wildlife populations. It is not all doom and gloom however. The State of Nature Report aims to wake people up to the “next great extinction” happening before our eyes. According to the charity, through “well – planned and sufficiently resourced conservation, we can turn around the fortunes of our wildlife.”
If you want to help here are a few ways to get involved :
Volunteer at a local nature reserve
Do a beach clean up
Adopt an animal
Check where your food comes from
Set up a bird feeder or bird box in your garden
Join a wildlife group
*Photos courtesy of Jo Payne, Wiki Creative Commons and The Wildlife Trust*