UK Wildlife in Decline
This year there have been a number of news stories reporting a serious decline in the UK’s wildlife across a range of species - something that we at FSC are continuously concerned about.
A British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) study found that more than a quarter of UK birds are at risk of extinction or are in steep decline including the puffin, nightingale and curlew - requiring urgent conservation efforts to ensure their survival.
Mammals have also been affected. Hedgehogs have been disappearing even faster than tigers worldwide, declining from around 35 million to less than a million in 40 years. This has been caused by habitat loss and a higher number of cars on roads - around 200,000 hedgehogs are hit and killed each year.
The worldwide decline in crucial insects like bumblebees has been widely reported, but other important insects such as butterflies have received less coverage. A Butterfly Conservation study found that butterflies had their fourth worst year on record in 2016, with the 70% of species experiencing a decline. As butterflies and moths are indicators of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystems, this is a concerning sign. Research suggests that increasingly mild winters and cold springs are shortening lifespans.
Although these news stories paint a rather disheartening picture of the UK’s wildlife and environment, with enough commitment and efforts from organisations and volunteers, the decline in the UK’s wildlife can be reversed through conservation.
One of the most ambitious conservation projects ever undertaken, Back from the Brink is a partnership of seven UK conservation charities to safeguard 20 UK species facing extinction including the ladybird spider and grey long-eared bat. The project is supported by £4.6 million in National Lottery funding and will also improve conservation for a further 200 species, recruiting more than 5,500 volunteers to teach new skills to study, identify and care for threatened species.
Conservation projects have been proven to have significant success. After years of efforts by conservationists, bird species such as the red kite that were once one of the UK’s most threatened species are now on the BTO’s green list - the lowest level of concern. Another success story is the UK’s rarest butterfly, the large blue, responding to conservation work and having its second best year on record in 2016, increasing 38% from 2015.
FSC is committed to protecting and preserving the UK’s unique and diverse wildlife. As an environmental education charity, our commitment to the environment is at the heart of everything we do. For example, educating young people on courses about the importance of the environment, developing biodiversity projects to improve biological recording skills and implementing local conservation initiatives at our centres like the bee hotel at Preston Montford.
What can you do to help?
There are a variety of volunteering projects to get involved with across the country to help vulnerable species.
- FSC Cuckoo Count
- BTO Volunteer Surveys
- Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Hedgehog Hotspots
- Butterfly Conservation Volunteering
- RSPB: Give nature a home in your garden
You can also improve your knowledge of UK wildlife on an FSC natural history course or through FSC Biodiversity and publications.
Friday, April 28, 2017