State of Nature report is damning

kingfisher by Shantanu Kuveskar

With many species lost and others on the brink of decline, we will have to change the way we live, eat, and farm this land.

The warnings are clear in the latest State of Nature 2019 report published last week. 70 organisations took part to produce the report which is a damning document on how human impacts are changing this country’s wildlife.

Sir David Attenborough has called for tough planning laws to protect Britain’s wildlife saying that this country is “one of the most nature depleted places on the planet”. Sir David wants to create a joined-up network of habitats that would give wildlife an opportunity to roam more widely, known as ‘Wildlife Corridors’. He wants a ‘nature recovery network’ to be included in the Government’s Environment Bill.

Sir David said: “We live in one of the most nature depleted places on the planet, now is the time to tell our politicians that we need a nature recovery network set in law.”

Evidence now shows the biggest impact in the last 50 years is farming and climate change with an increase in agricultural production by 150% since 1973 putting pressure on birds and mammals.

With Britain’s wildlife continuing to decline at an alarming rate, butterflies and moths, for example, have been hit hard with Britain’s most endangered butterfly, the high brown fritillary, now down to a handful of numbers in isolated parts of Dartmoor and Exmoor. Global warming has driven a
number of species north and warming seas have led to changes in fish distribution.

Harry Barton, Chief Executive of Devon Wildlife Trust, said: “Here in the South West we have some of the best wildlife habitats in the country, from wild moorland to stunning coastline. But we are feeling the pain of nature’s loss as acutely as anywhere.

Devon’s last kittiwake colony fell silent last year. Curlews are down to a handful of breeding pairs and nearly 100 species are at risk of disappearing from the county.

As if that is not enough, only 30% of our legally protected sites are in good condition. It’s not too late to bring nature back. Thanks to a huge amount of work, beavers are now thriving in the River Otter and cirl buntings can once again be seen on the south coast. Nature is not a luxury. It’s vital for our health and wellbeing. And it’s equally important in the battle to contain carbon emissions. We can turn around nature’s plight, but only if we think boldly and act far more quickly. The time for tinkering around the edges is over.”

Rosie Hails, nature and science director at the National Trust, said: “We are now at a crossroads when we need to pull together with actions rather words to stop and reverse the decline of those species at risk as well as protecting and creating new habitats in which they can thrive. As the country’s biggest private landowner we have set ourselves some key targets by 2025. This includes an ambition to create 25,000 hectares of new priority habitats such as a new butterfly habitat in the Heddon Valley in Devon.”

Gareth Morgan, head of farming policy at the Soil Association, said: “This shocking report confirms our wildlife is still declining at an alarming rate. We must change the way we farm and the food we eat. Our diets need to be aligned with what is healthy and what the planet can sustain. Farming must be based on conserving soils and storing carbon whilst producing nutritious food.”

Stuart Clarke

Author: Stuart Clarke

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