The State of Nature and What We're Doing About it

Wednesday 22nd May 2013

Marbled White ButterflyClinging on - why our work is vital to protect habitat for declining species

Six out of ten UK species are in decline, according to a groundbreaking study carried out by the biggest ever collection of conservation organisations and volunteers. This highlights the work that needs to be done to preserve the UK's amazing wildlife and the need to work for all sectors to work together to achieve gains for nature.

Birmingham and the Black Country’s nature is in trouble – that is the conclusion of a groundbreaking report launched today (May 22) by a coalition of leading conservation and research organisations.

Scientists working side-by-side from wildlife organisations across the UK, including The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, 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.

Urban, woodland, grassland and heathland, fresh water and wetland species are under threat in Birmingham and the Black Country, as in other areas of the country. However, the work that The Wildlife Trust are doing with partners on the Nature Improvement Area shows that there is hope for improvements locally.

The State of Nature report will be launched by Sir David Attenborough and UK conservation charities at the Natural History Museum in London this evening.

This report serves as a reminder to us all that nature needs our help and we can all do our bit to save it. Its authors are calling on people to support conservation charities and take action for wildlife.

Sir David AttenboroughSir David Attenborough said: “This groundbreaking report is a stark warning – but it is also a sign of hope. For 60 years I have travelled the world exploring the wonders of nature and sharing that wonder with the public. But as a boy my first inspiration came from discovering the UK’s own wildlife.

“Our islands have a rich diversity of habitats which support some truly amazing plants and animals. We should all be proud of the beauty we find on our own doorstep; from bluebells carpeting woodland floors and delicately patterned fritillary butterflies, to the graceful basking shark and the majestic golden eagle soaring over the Scottish mountains.

“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 to highlight the amazing nature we have around us and to ensure that it remains here for generations to come.”

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.

“Reliable data on these species goes back just 50 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."

Neil Wyatt for The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country commented: “None of this work would have been possible without the army of volunteer wildlife enthusiasts who spend their spare time surveying species and recording their findings. Our knowledge of nature in the UK would be significantly poorer without these unsung heroes, and that knowledge is the most essential tool that conservationists have.

"It is time for us to take action to save nature and we are calling on people to give their support. We can all do something for nature, whether it is volunteering on a nature reserve, surveying species, making wildlife-friendly gardens, supporting campaigns or by becoming a member of a conservation charity.

"We need as many people as possible to engage with the Nature Improvement Area and add to the great achievements of the first year. The partnership working between charities, the public sector, private sector and volunteer groups that is making it such a success provides a great model for urban nature conservation in the future."

What you can do to help

The Birmingham & Black Country Nature Improvement Area is a partnership of over 50 organisations led by The Wildlife Trust that have come together to deliver significant improvements to the natural environment of Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Read some inspiring stories of the work already taking place and apply to become a partner and carry out your own project.

Become a wildlife recorder - help EcoRecord to obtain the best possible data on how species are doing locally.

Become a supporter of The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country yourself by joining today, or encourage your employer to become a corporate member.

Make your garden a haven for wildlife (if you have one), or volunteer to help a friends group on a local green space.

State of Nature fact file

• The total number of larger moths had fallen by 28% since the late 1960s and two-thirds of the 337 species monitored had declined, and 37% by more than half;
• 72% of butterfly species had decreased over the previous 10 years, including common garden butterflies that had declined by 24%;
• The UK has lost 44 million breeding birds since the late 1960s;
• In 16 counties, one plant species went extinct every other year;
• Britain's mammals have seen losses and gains, with decline of hedgehogs, the ongoing loss of red squirrels, and the recovery of otters;
• In 2010, Norman Maclean's book Silent Summer summarised dramatic declines in the UK's insect populations, and concluded that 'our wildlife is clearly in for a bumpy ride'.


FilenameFile size
state_of_nature_-_main_report.pdf6.7 MB

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