Study: 60% of UK wildlife in decline
We are perhaps more accustomed to hearing about the conservation of exotic endangered species in tropical biodiversity hotspots in places such as Southeast Asia. We tut and swear at foreign governments and multinational corporations who wantonly destroy the habitats of cuddly pandas, beautiful tigers and supremely sympathetic orangutans, but what about the already-industrialized world?
Have the British given up on the UK’s wildlife? Hardly. Scarcely a week goes by when I don’t read about a controversial badger cull, arguments over urban foxes and even bats’ vulnerability to wind turbines.
So in the land that exterminated all of its native beavers, wolves and bears, people do care – even as wildlife continues to disappear.
A new ground breaking study has revealed that 60% of species in the UK have declined during the past 50 years and 10% are at risk of extinction.
From the Independent:
Its findings, based on studies of 3,148 species, offer clues to the overall fortunes of the UK’s 59,000 species. Hedgehogs, turtle doves and red squirrels were among the species seeing the biggest falls in recent years, while butterflies, moths and bats also saw rapid declines.
It’s disconcerting to imagine that a species so iconic to Britain like a hedgehog or turtledove (think Twelve Days of Christmas) will no longer exist on the Sceptred Isle.
Beloved naturalist and television presenter Sir David Attenborough has long been lending his voice to British conservation. He launched the report with these words (via the Evening Standard):
This ground-breaking report is a stark warning – but it is also a sign of hope. For 60 years I have travelled the world exploring the wonders of nature and sharing that wonder with the public. But as a boy my first inspiration came from discovering the UK’s own wildlife. Our islands have a rich diversity of habitats which support some truly amazing plants and animals. We should all be proud of the beauty we find on our own doorstep; from bluebells carpeting woodland floors and delicately patterned fritillary butterflies, to the graceful basking shark and the majestic golden eagle soaring over the Scottish mountains. This report shows that our species are in trouble, with many declining at a worrying rate.
So what’s to blame? The usual suspects, of course: unsustainable farming practices and the over use of pesticides, overfishing, climate change, construction, urbanization, and the destruction of natural habitats. You know, progress.