UK wildlife in a perilous state

A detailed report into UK wildlife has found that many species are struggling and that one in three have halved in number in the past half century.

The RSPB was joined by 25 conservation groups including the Wildlife Trusts, the Mammal Society, Buglife and the Marine Conservation Society in producing the State of Nature report.

It was found that 60% of the 3,148 species analysed for the report have declined in the last 50 years and one in 10 are at risk of extinction.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Sir David Attenborough, said: "This important document provides a stark warning: far more species are declining than increasing in the UK, including many of our most treasured species. Alarmingly, a large number of them are threatened with extinction.

"The causes are varied, but most are ultimately due to the way we are using our land and seas and their natural resources, often with little regard for the wildlife with which we share them.

"The impact on plants and animals has been profound."

In compiling the report, the conservation groups called on a large number of volunteer naturalists in the UK, assessing the data collected against trend assessments for over 3000 species, and red-list assessments of over 6000 species.

Woodland, farmland, coastal areas, towns and cities were assessed with a number of reasons for the stark decline in species number being blamed.

These include intensive farming, resulting in fewer meadows, hedgerows and ponds, while increasing pesticide use and climate change were also highlighted.

Dr Mark Eaton, a lead author on the report, said: "This report reveals that the UK’s nature is in trouble - overall we are losing wildlife at an alarming rate.

"These declines are happening across all countries and UK Overseas Territories, habitats and species groups, although it is probably greatest amongst insects, such as our moths, butterflies and beetles.

"Other once common species like the lesser spotted woodpecker, barbastelle bat and hedgehog are vanishing before our eyes.

"Reliable data on these species goes back just fifty years, at most, but we know that there has been a historical pattern of loss in the UK going back even further.

"Threats including sweeping habitat loss, changes to the way we manage our countryside, and the more recent impact of climate change, have had a major impact on our wildlife, and they are not going away."

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