Quarter of UK mammals at risk of extinction

More than a quarter of mammals are facing extinction in the UK following a huge decline in wildlife over the last 50 years, the most comprehensive study of its kind has uncovered.

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The wild cat and greater mouse-eared bat are among the species teetering on the edge of extinction, according the State of the Nature report, published by the National Biodiversity Network (NBN).

In total, a whopping 41% of species have declined in Britain since the 1970s, with butterflies and moths hit particularly hard after populations fell by 17% and 25% respectively.

Leading professionals from more than 70 wildlife organisations joined forces for the study, finding that climate change and land use for agriculture are having the biggest impacts on nature.

“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,” report lead author, Daniel Hayhow, said.

“We have drawn on the best available data on the UK’s biodiversity, produced by partnerships between conservation NGOs, research institutes, governments, and volunteers. Working together we can help nature recover but the battle must intensify.”

The study found that pollution has also had a severe impact on the UK’s sensitive habitats and freshwaters, and that new pollutant threats are continuing to emerge.

Despite alarming declines in wildlife, the researchers said there is cause for some “cautious hope”, with a wide range of conservation initiatives helping to enhance nature in Britain.

Species such as bitterns and large blue butterflies have been saved through the concerted efforts of organisations, while NGO expenditure is up 26% since 2010, and the time donated by volunteers has increased by 40% since 2000.

However, the researchers warned that public sector expenditure on biodiversity in the UK, as a proportion of GDP, has fallen by 42% since a peak in 2008.

“We need to respond more urgently across the board if we are to put nature back where it belongs,” Hayhow continued.

“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.”

 

Image credit: ©iStock

Author: 

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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