The ground-breaking State of Nature Report launched on the International Day for Biological Diversity 2013. 25 wildlife organisations, including Buglife, have carried out a stock-take of our native species, to find that 2 out of 3 insects are falling in numbers.
State of Nature Report reveals that UK nature is in serious trouble
UK nature is in serious trouble – that is the conclusion of a ground-breaking report published in Spring 2013 by a coalition of leading conservation and research organisations. The report was published on the day that the United Nations has proclaimed International Day for Biological Diversity.
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, particularly moths, butterflies, ladybirds and ground beetles: these groups of insects have all declined between 65-70% over recent decades!
Many invertebrates are highly threatened. The Freshwater pearl mussel is at risk of global extinction, and dozens of species have become extinct nationally. The Short-haired bumblebee and Large copper butterfly are but two that we have lost in recent decades from the UK.
There is also evidence suggesting that species with strict habitat requirements are faring worse than generalist species that can adapt to a rapidly changing environment.
Underlying this trend of decline is the loss and degradation of important invertebrate habitats, particularly wildflower rich grassland, saltmarsh, brownfield land and coastal dune. Changes to the way we manage our countryside, development pressure and the impacts of climate change, have conspired to seriously damage our wildlife – particularly invertebrates.
The invertebrate declines we are witnessing are significantly greater than those observed in birds and mammals. Invertebrates are the very heart of our ecosystems. They provide an excellent indicator of the health of our environment and a range of essential services –most obviously pollination. The report shows that most species of pollinator are in decline.
Buglife is concerned that these declines are already 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’ – it places the spotlight on many fundamental 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: every one of us must pause and ask ‘what am I doing and what is my business doing to halt these insidious declines?’”
Sir David Attenborough, launching the report 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.”