Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

41% of UK Species Have Declined Since 1970, Major Report Finds

Animals
The most threatened mammals are the Scottish wildcat (pictured above) and the black rat. Andy Catlin / 500px / Getty Images

Brexit may have dominated the headlines in recent weeks, but another crisis is underway in the UK: One in seven of its wildlife species face extinction, and 41 percent have declined since 1970.


Those figures are from the most recent State of Nature report, released Friday. It is the "most detailed report ever" on the state of the UK's wildlife, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). It looked at nearly 7,000 species and drew on the expertise of more than 70 organizations, BBC News reported.

"We know more about the UK's wildlife than any other country on the planet, and what it is telling us should make us sit up and listen," lead report author and RSPB scientist Daniel Hayhow said, as BBC News reported.

Here are some of the report's key messages, according to BBC News, The Guardian and The Natural History Museum:

  • More than one quarter of UK mammals face extinction.
  • Almost one half of its bird species are at risk.
  • Nearly one-fifth of plant species, 15 percent of fungi and lichens, 40 percent of vertebrates and 12 percent of invertebrates also face extinction.
  • One quarter of moths and almost one fifth of butterflies have already gone extinct.
  • In total, 133 of the species assessed have gone extinct since the 1500s.
  • Sixty percent of so-called "priority species" have declined since 1970.
  • The most threatened mammals are the Scottish wildcat and the black rat.
  • Since the 1950s, hedgehogs have declined by 95 percent, turtle doves by 98 percent and common toads by 68 percent.
  • Ninety-three percent of beached northern fulmar seabirds had eaten plastic.
  • In three Crown Dependencies and 14 Overseas Territories, which include important ocean ecosystems, 40 percent of sharks and rays, 36 percent of reptiles and amphibians, 11 percent of mammals and eight percent of birds are threatened.
  • In positive news, one quarter of species have increased, including the bittern and the large blue butterfly.

The report builds on other alarming findings. A 2018 study found that a fifth of UK mammals could be extinct within 10 years. The last State of Nature report, in 2016, found that the UK was "among the most nature depleted countries in the world," according to The Guardian.

"We are in the midst of a nature and climate emergency right here at home," Mark Wright of WWF told The Guardian. "The new [post-Brexit] environment bill must be world-leading with bold legal targets and a strong watchdog that holds the government accountable for halting the losses."

The major drivers of biodiversity loss are agriculture, the climate crisis, urbanization, pollution, hydrological change, invasive species and woodland management, the report said.

Pesticide use on crops increased 53 percent between 1990 and 2010, and many species are shifting their ranges 20 kilometers (approximately 12 miles) north per decade as temperatures warm, BBC News reported.

"I have felt the loss of nature more acutely this year than any other," 24-year-old Sophie Pavelle, a conservationist quoted in the report's foreword, told The Guardian. "A dawn chorus less deafening; hedgerows less frantic; bizarre, worrying weather. It seems that in a more complex world, nature is tired, muted and confused."

But the increasing ecological crisis corresponds with an increase in public interest in and concern for the environment, and the report itself is proof. It relied on observations from volunteers and citizen scientists around the country, Head of Science Policy and Communication at the Natural History Museum John Jackson said.

"The fact that this report exists reflects a mass of individual interest in the natural world," Jackson said. "It reflects that cultural value that is attached in the UK to understanding and interacting with nature."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Michael Svoboda

The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.

Read More Show Less
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Thursday accused NOAA of ignoring its own scientists' findings about the endangerment of the North Atlantic right whale. Lauren Packard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Beth Ann Mayer

Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.

Read More Show Less
Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less