Press release – State of Nature Partnership (UK)

No let-up in net loss of UK’s nature

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 also reveals that 41% of UK species studied have declined, 26% have increased and 33% shown little change have declined since 1970, while 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.

Much is known about the causes of decline and about some of the ways in which we could reduce impacts and help struggling species. 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, said: 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.

In this report we have drawn on the best available data on the UK’s biodiversity, produced by partnerships between conservation NGOs, research institutes, UK and national governments, and thousands of dedicated volunteers. It’s through working together that we can help nature recover but the battle must intensify.‘.

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 Bitterns 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.

The report has a foreword by a collective of young conservationists who are passionate about conservation and the future of our wildlife and nature to preserve it for future generations.

Dan Rouse, a young conservationist said, ‘Nature is something that shaped my childhood, that allowed me to be free to use my sense of wonder, and to gain an insight into the wonderful world of nature! It’s young people that are now picking up the baton to save our nature – we’ve already lost Corn Buntings and Nightingales in Wales – how long until they’re gone from the rest of the UK? Along with the eerie calls of curlew and the gentle purr of the turtle doves.‘.

Sophie Pavelle, a young conservationist said ‘What a huge wake-up call 2019 has been! I have felt the loss of nature more acutely this year than any other. A dawn chorus less deafening, hedgerows less frantic, bizarre, worrying weather…it seems that in a more complex world nature is tired, muted and confused. People protect what they love, and if we can find quirky, empowering ways to encourage young people to connect with nature emotionally and see it as something they can truly champion – only then can we dig deep to find real hope for a brighter, sustained future for our natural world.‘.

For a full copy of the State of Nature 2019 report and to find out how you can do your bit to save UK wildlife – www.nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019

Ends

The State of Nature 2019 UK partnership includes: A Focus On Nature, A Rocha, Action for Conservation, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC), Association of Local Environmental Records Centres (ALERC), Badenoch & Strathspey Conservation Group, Bat Conservation Ireland, Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), Biodiversity Ireland, Biological Records Centre (BRC), Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, British Arachnological Society (BAS), British Bryological Society (BBS), British Dragonfly Society (BDS), British Lichen Society, British Mycological Society (BMS), British Pteridological Society (BPS), British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), Chester Zoo, Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Continuous Plankton Recorder, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Durrell), Earthwatch, Freshwater Habitats Trust, Friends of the Earth, Froglife, Isle of Man Government, iSpot (The Open University), Jersey Government Department of the Environment, John Muir Trust, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), Local Environmental Records Centre Wales, Mammal Society, Manx BirdLife, Marine Biological Association (MBA), Marine Conservation Society, Marine Ecosystems Research Programme, MARINELife, National Biodiversity Network (NBN), National Forum for Biological Recording, CEDAR Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, National Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Natural England (NE), Natural History Museum, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Northern Ireland Bat Group, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), ORCA, People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), Plantlife, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Scottish Badgers, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Scottish Environment Link, Scottish Wild Land Group, Shark Trust, States of Guernsey, The Fungus Conservation Trust, Trees for Life, Ulster Wildlife Trust, University of Plymouth, University of Sheffield, Vincent Wildlife Trust, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), Wildlife Trusts, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust, WWF, Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

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14 Replies to “Press release – State of Nature Partnership (UK)”

  1. No surprise that 'changing agricultural management' is regarded as the biggest cause of wildlife loss. Imagine if every time there was a debate about the (supposed) conflict between conservation and farming it began with the comment that we throw away a third of our food? It would have been great to see it on that infographic, under the circumstances entirely relevant, indispensable to the rest of it.

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    1. Great point Les. If the land that is used to grow food to be thrown away could instead be turned over to nature, imagine the impact that could have!

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  2. We are living in the lost decade - after Labour's serious efforts to do something for our wildlife, the Conservative attack on the public sector - and on shared as opposed to private assets - has had exactly the effects it set out to achieve. From blatantly hostile Ministers to attempts to paper over the cracks by people like Michael Gove, all the action has in rality been against nature. R

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    1. "has had exactly the effects it set out to achieve" - what effects has it set out to achieve? I'm not sure I buy the argument that alleged negative effects of these policies are deliberate. They may in part damage nature but its absurd IMO to think that politicians are deliberately setting out to damage nature. just for the sake of it

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      1. We all know that Tories (and the Lib Dems, Tories in all but name) right from 2010, has had only one consistent policy. That policy is: Fuck the Lefties. And they see green and environmental issues as inherently leftist positions, so they are also "fuck the environment" too. And if you want to argue, then you can go do to yourself what the Tories are doing to the rest of us.

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        1. " And if you want to argue, then you can go do to yourself what the Tories are doing to the rest of us."

          Sorry are you suggesting here that I go fuck myself if I dare to disagree with you? I'm afraid I think you analysis is a little shallow. To suggest that one can only care about the environment and indeed help the environment if one support the Labour party is just ignorant pathetic bullshit.

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      2. Giles, the Tory government's intention may not have been to damage nature for the sake of it (and I don't think Roderick suggested it was) but its intention has very clearly been to tip the balance between nature and the interests of business, landowners and the wealthy in favour of the latter. David Cameron's 'green crap' and George Osborne's 'gold-plated' nature protection legislation were seen as obstacles to business that they wanted weakened and they have certainly done so. In particular they have systematically hobbled Natural England, both by heavy leaning from above by Ministers and by slashing its funding and sapping its morale. The objectives of all this were perhaps profits for businessmen and happy Tory voters rather than fewer Turtle Doves and harrier-free moors but the end result is the same; nature has lost out.

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  3. "Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), said: "Farming has already embarked on a long journey of protecting and maintaining the iconic British countryside; huge amounts of work have been carried out to enhance our landscapes, benefit soil and water and encourage wildlife and farmland birds - this year 140 different species of birds were recorded on farms during the Big Farmland Bird Count."

    "140 different species"!

    No reference to the densities or trends of these species, so for all we know, the count may have only recorded a single representative of each. Does the NFU honestly believe that such meaningless crap fools anyone other than the average Daily Mosley reader?

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    1. If as the report states changing agricultural management has had the biggest effect on nature then we probably need to look into the drivers for agricultural management changing. High on the list I would have thought is the increase in population.

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      1. It's more the need to be profitable, which is inherent in the capitalist system, that drives 'improvements' in the agricultural sector rather than any desire or requirement to feed the starving masses.

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      2. I think highest on the list is that we throw away a third of our food Giles. Funnily enough that's never brought up when the farming community and friends are using food security issues to argue for maintaining the status quo - continued subsidy for marginal farming, but no calls for restrictions on good quality farmland being sold for development I notice..mmmm. We also eat too much as well, could very easily reduce the animal protein we consume, grow more food on urban green space on land that's just close mowed grass right now (reduces food miles and creates educational opportunities), plus there are exciting new opportunities to cut some land use by growing hydroponically. As far as population is concerned, making family planning services available to more of the world's population would be a good start.

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  4. No mention in these comments of the agrichemical sector as the main driver of destruction??..farmers encouraged to use pesticides and herbicides on ever larger fields without edges/hedgerows/tree boundaries....but also competition between farmers to be seen to be improving on their neighbours efforts [dont leave "weeds", use the latest techniques, use bigger more powerful equipment] and improving on their parents and grandparents efforts at "taming the land"....The rush to modernity, the lack of connection to the land and sheer greed on the part of suppliers and users of chemicals is what has killed all these birds.

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  5. Surprise surprise not even a mention here that all the po!lution in the world in general but probably in the UK more so that kills several thousands of humans annually is likely to do at least as much damage to birds and animals as farming.Do you all believe you can have more than thirty million vehicles on the roads doing goodness knows how many miles polluting everywhere plus other pollutants doing no damage.
    Fact is there are birds,animals and fish with no connection with farming going towards extinction while all conservationists in general praise each other to blame farming.
    As a retired farmer I think you are not doing wildlife any favours.
    Farming is not the most guilty party here but everyone with a vehicle wants to blame someone else.
    The RSPB is certainly not blameless either having told me that the answer for farmland birds is not necessarily to get farmers to have small acerages of bird food mixtures planted each year as insects are needed.
    Well to get more farmland birds firstly we have to have older birds breeding who need these plots and do the RSPB not realise that those wild bird mixtures will certainly attract more insects than any crop that farmers generally grow.
    Sometimes the solution or part of the solution seems to pass the RSPB by.
    All the wild bird food mixtures I see seem to fulfil a demand by the enormous numbers of birds they attract.

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  6. The dislikes simply show the bias conservationists in general have about what is wrong in the UK for nature.

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