More than one in ten UK species threatened with extinction

Calls for urgent action follow a new report showing 56% of UK species have declined over the last 50 years. 

Hedgehogs are among the worst hit by population decline over the last 40 years
Hedgehogs are among the worst hit species declining in the UK

The State of Nature report has found that since 1970 over half of UK species have declined, while more than one in ten are under threat from dissappearing from our shores forever. 

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has pooled together expertise and knowledge from 53 wildlife organistations including ZSL to create the report and find the latest picture of the status of our native wildlife on land and sea. While it shows that nature in the UK is in more trouble than most other countries people the important conclusion is that it is not to late to reverse the problems. 

Many examples of conservation action are helping to turn the tide. From pioneering science that has revealed for the first time the reasons why nature is changing in the UK, to conservation work – such as monitoring smelt in the thames and campaigning to make London free of single-use plastic bottles. But more is needed to put nature back where it belongs.

As the UK Government and devolved administrations move forward in the light of the EU Referendum result, there is an opportunity to secure world leading protection for our species and restoration of our nature. Now is the time to make ambitious decisions and significant investment in nature to ensure year-on-year improvement to the health and protection of the UK’s nature and environment for future generations.

Sir David Attenborough has been among those launching the findings at the RSPB headquarters in London earlier today. He said: “The natural world is in serious trouble and it needs our help as never before."

“The rallying call issued after the State of Nature report in 2013 has promoted exciting and innovative conservation projects. Landscapes are being restored, special places defended, struggling species being saved and brought back. But we need to build significantly on this progress if we are to provide a bright future for nature and for people."

In order to reduce the impact we are having on our wildlife, and to help struggling species understand what is causing these declines is crucial. Using evidence from the last 50 years, experts have identified that significant and ongoing changes in agricultural practices are having the single biggest impact on nature.

The widespread decline of nature in the UK remains a serious problem to this day. For the first time scientists have uncovered how wildlife has fared in recent years. The report reveals that since 2002 more than half (53%) of UK species studied have declined and there is little evidence to suggest that the rate of loss is slowing down. 

Mark Eaton, Lead author on the report, said: "Never before have we known this much about the state of UK nature and the threats it is facing. Since the 2013, the partnership and many landowners have used this knowledge to underpin some amazing scientific and conservation work. But more is needed to put nature back where it belongs – we must continue to work to help restore our land and sea for wildlife." 

“There is a real opportunity for the UK Government and devolved administrations to build on these efforts and deliver the significant investment and ambitious action needed to bring nature back from the brink."

Hedgehogs have been highlighted among the UK species most loved but worst hit by the decline. 

The news comes as central London’s only remaining population of hedgehogs are facing a major threat to their survival, following plans to use one of their last-known habitat as lorry park.

Experts from ZSL (Zoological Society of London) will be appealing to a House of Lords Select Committee today to request that HS2 find an alternative location for their HGV and construction vehicles; so as not to cause irreversible damage to the population of hedgehogs that live in the dense-shrubbery borders of ZSL London Zoo’s car park.

The hearing could represent the last chance for ZSL and other concerned local residents to safeguard the habitat of these enigmatic animals. ZSL London Zoo is asking people to join the fight for this important habitat and prevent HS2 taking over the hedgehogs’ home by tweeting @zsllondonzoo using #TeamHedgehog.  

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