The UK’s wildlife continues to decline according to the State of Nature 2019 report. The latest findings show that since rigorous scientific monitoring began in the 1970s there has been a 13% decline in average abundance across wildlife studied and that the declines continue unabated.
Following the State of Nature reports in 2013 and 2016, leading professionals from more than 70 wildlife organisations have joined with government agencies for the first time, to present the clearest picture to date of the status of our species across land and sea.
The State of Nature 2019 report reveals that
- 41% of UK species studied have declined
- 26% have increased
- 33% have shown little change since 1970
- 133 species assessed have already been lost from our shores since 1500
Butterflies and moths have been particularly hard hit with numbers of butterflies down by 17% and moths down by 25%. The numbers of species, such as the High Brown Fritillary and Grayling, that require more specialised habitats have declined by more than three quarters.
The UK’s mammals also fare badly with greater than 26% of species at risk of disappearing altogether. The Wild Cat and Greater Mouse-eared Bat are among those species teetering on the edge of disappearing.
Why is wildlife declining?
The evidence from the last 50 years shows that significant and ongoing changes in the way we manage our land for agriculture, and the ongoing effects of climate change are having the biggest impacts on nature.
Pollution is also a major issue. Whilst emissions of many pollutants have been reduced dramatically in recent decades, pollution continues to have a severe impact on the UK’s sensitive habitats and freshwaters, and new pollutant threats are continuing to emerge.
Daniel Hayhow, lead author on the report, says:
"We know more about the UK’s wildlife than any other country on the planet, and what it is telling us should make us sit up and listen.
We need to respond more urgently across the board if we are to put nature back where it belongs. Governments, conservation groups and individuals must continue to work together to help restore our land and sea for wildlife and people in a way that is both ambitious and inspiring for future generations. It’s through working together that we can help nature recover but the battle must intensify."
There is some good news
Whilst the data that the report shows are alarming, there is also cause for some cautious hope. The report showcases a wide range of exciting conservation initiatives, with partnerships delivering inspiring results for some of the UK’s nature. Species such as Bittern and Large Blue Butterfly have been saved through the concerted efforts of organisations and individuals.
Reflecting growing concern about the environmental and climate emergencies, public support for conservation also continues to grow, with NGO expenditure up by 26% since 2010/11 and time donated by volunteers having increased by 40% since 2000. However, public sector expenditure on biodiversity in the UK, as a proportion of GDP, has fallen by 42% since a peak in 2008/09.
Nature is in big trouble but we know how to bring it back
Local action is already making a real difference and now the government needs to play its part. We need a Nature Recovery Network established in law – one that is locally developed and nationally connected – this would help join up our last remaining wild places by creating vital new habitats. It’s time to make nature a normal part of childhood again and restore wildlife so it can recover and thrive across urban jungles and the countryside once more – where it can be part of people’s daily lives.
Take action for nature today:
- Count the wildlife that’s counting on you
Producing the State of Nature report was only possible due to thousands of volunteers giving up their time to help record and monitor wildlife. Submit your wildlife sightings via iRecord
Whatever your skills, you could help nature by volunteering your time and support. We have lots of ways that you can volunteer for Sussex Wildlife Trust.
- Manage your space for wildlife
From bats to butterflies, nature needs your help. Take a wildlife friendly approach in your garden, window box, school or workplace to help nature thrive. Find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening
From protecting important sites for wildlife to defending the laws that protect nature, you can make your views count. Campaign with The Wildlife Trusts
- Live sustainably
The food we eat, the energy we use and the way we travel can all have knock-on impacts on nature. We’ve made a list of 30 everyday ways you can help wildlife.