The new State of Nature Report reveals that UK nature is in serious trouble

Wednesday 17th July 2013

The new ground-breaking State of Nature Report launched today on the International Day for Biological Diversity. 25 wildlife organisations, including Buglife, have compiled a stock take of our native species that reveals that 2 out of 3 insects are declining.

 

UK nature is in serious trouble – that is the conclusion of a ground-breaking report published today by a coalition of leading conservation and research organisations. The report is published on the same day that the United Nations has proclaimed International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

Scientists working side-by-side from 25 wildlife organisations, including Buglife have compiled a stock take of our native species – the first of its kind in the UK. The report reveals that 60% of the species studied have declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.

The report makes especially sobering reading with regard to invertebrates. The small things that run the world are suffering the greatest declines, especially moths, butterflies, ladybirds and ground beetles, these groups of insects have all declined between 65-70%! Many invertebrates are highly threatened, such as the Freshwater pearl mussel at risk of global extinction, and dozens of species have become extinct nationally such as the Short-haired bumblebee and Large copper butterfly. There is also evidence to suggest that species with strict habitat requirements are faring worse than generalist species that are better able to adapt to a changing environment.

Underlying this trend of decline is the loss and degradation of important invertebrate habitats such as wildflower rich grassland, saltmarsh, brownfield land and coastal dune. Changes to the way we manage our countryside, development pressure and the more recent impact of climate change, have had a major impact on our wildlife especially invertebrates.

The invertebrate declines we are witnessing are significantly greater than those observed in birds and mammals. Invertebrates are the corner stone of our ecosystems; they provide an excellent indicator of the health of our environment and a range of essential services such as pollination. The report shows that most species of pollinator are in decline, Buglife are concerned that these declines may already be impacting on the UK’s ability to grow food and crops. Declines in pollinators are fuelled by the loss of wildflower meadows and agricultural intensification.

Research and data collection on invertebrates is crucial for understanding the ‘State of Nature’ as it places the spotlight on many issues that other wildlife groups cannot.

Buglife’s Chief Executive Matt Shardlow said “This report confirms that UK wildlife is in trouble, two in three bugs are in decline. Saving our wild heritage for future generations is possible if we all pull together; all parts of society have a role to play, from farmers and conservationists, to politicians and business leaders, to the public, everyone of us must pause and ask ‘what am I doing and what is my business doing to halt these insidious declines?’ ”

Sir David Attenborough will be launching the report at an event at the Natural History Museum this evening. Buglife staff are delighted to be attending the event to fly the flag for invertebrates.

Sir David Attenborough said: “This ground-breaking report is a stark warning – but it is also a sign of hope. This report shows that our species are in trouble, with many declining at a worrying rate. However, we have in this country a network of passionate conservation groups supported by millions of people who love wildlife. The experts have come together today to highlight the amazing nature we have around us and to ensure that it remains here for generations to come.”

The full report can be viewed at rspb.org.uk/Images/stateofnature_tcm9-345839.pdf 

Find out more about International Day for Biological Diversity here http://www.cbd.int/idb/