An international report focusing on the epic disappearance of plant and animal populations around the globe has been released by the IPBES this week. Backed by the UN, the report is the result of a 3-year study and shows how over a million species are threatened with extinction – more than at any other time in human history.
Campaign group Friends of the Earth is calling on the UK to take responsibility to help halt this ecological disaster. Sandra Bell, nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said;
“This is a crisis and should be treated as such. For too long the UK government has failed to reverse nature decline not just within its own borders but also internationally.
“We need commitment from ministers for a huge nature boost – it’s not enough to simply maintain what little we have left. Having more space for nature across our countryside and in our towns and cities, including significantly increased tree cover, will not only boost biodiversity but will also be a big part of the fight against climate chaos.”
Here in the UK, a number of native species are under serious threat, with Friends of the Earth listing the following;
The Skylark – an iconic bird renowned for its flight pattern and song, has declined by 50% in 40 years across Europe, due to changing farming practices which have resulted in the loss of nesting sites and food sources.
The small blue butterfly is in decline in most parts of the UK, with numbers down by 38% since the 1970s. Habitat fragmentation and incompatible grazing practices (e.g. summer grazing/overgrazing) is contributing to the decline. Butterflies are often used as an indicator species for the health of our wider environment.
Bees and hoverflies are also faring badly. Recent studies show that one-third of the 353 wild bee and hoverfly species across the country are in decline. Here in the UK, and globally, bees are facing many threats, including habitat loss, climate change, toxic pesticides and disease. The decline in bees’ diversity and abundance would have a serious impact on how our natural world functions as bees pollinate our food crops.
The red squirrel, wildcat and the grey long-eared bat are all facing severe threats to their survival, with a 66% decline in populations over the past 20 years. Climate change, loss of habitat, use of pesticides and road deaths are all putting pressure on some of our favourite British mammals.
Hedgehogs are much loved and used to be a familiar sight in our gardens. We have lost over half of rural hedgehogs and a third from towns and cities. The decline in towns and cities seems to be slowing, but the situation in the countryside is a real concern.
Main image: Red squirrel – Sarah Hanson