The State of Nature
Over the last year 70 wildlife organisations across the UK have been working with Government to assess the populations of more than 8,400 species. This week the research efforts culminated in the ’State of Nature Report’ - the first since 2016 - and I’ve pulled out some of the most eye-watering and horrifying facts that everyone needs to know.
ONE in SEVEN species are at risk of being completely wiped out across the UK. That’s a QUARTER of mammals and HALF of birds assessed in this report.
Since the 16th century 133 species have already become official extinct.
The average wildlife populations across UK have DROPPED by an average of SIXY PERCENT in the last FIFTY YEARS. That’s a 12% decrease every single year.
The MOST THREATENED species include hedgehog, hares, rabbits, wild cats and beavers as well as bats, willow tit and turtle dove birds and and insects like the high brown fritillary butterfly.
HALF of all commercial fisheries in the UK are overexploited
The impact of plastic pollution has reached new heights with 93% of fulmer seabirds showing to have ingested plastic and the number of particles swallowed TRIPLING since the 1980s.
What’s the cause? Everything from intensified farming, pollution from fertiliser, manure and plastic as well as the continued destruction of habitats for houses and invasive species creating more imbalance in our eco systems. Nature is resilient but it’s tired and disorientated by unpredictable weather patterns bought on by the climate crisis.
Compare these findings with the last major report released in 2016 where the UK was recognised as amongst one of the ‘most nature depleted countries in the world’ and you’d hope we listened to the wake up call. We didn’t. This report concludes that 'we’ve illustrated no significant improvements.’
Sadly these findings mirror a global trend in the steep decline of wildlife populations. Scientists have coined this era the ‘sixth mass extinction’.
We’re on track to miss almost all our 2020 nature targets and whilst government is preoccupied with other matters we stand to lose more and more species by the day. Since 2009 - so in ten years - funding to protect and enhance wildlife and nature has dropped by a shocking 42%.
As well as the bad news, it’s peppered with some good results too, where local groups have been able to bring some species back from the brink. But there’s still a long way to go.
So what can we do? Don’t feel like it’s bigger than you for a start. By protecting and enhancing what’s on our doorstep (or in our gardens) we can make a huge collective contribution.
Here’s a few suggestions:
Add new plants and trees to your garden to encourage biodiversity
Hang a bird feeder or introduce a bird preening station.
If you buy compost for your garden, make it peat free.
Let your grass grow longer
Take up wildlife gardening - I find it looking after plants really relaxing and meditative
Team up with neighbours and friends to improve habitats in local communities
Get an allotment (or create one in your garden) to grow your own produce
Buy local food from nature friendly farmers.