On the 14th September, we saw David Attenborough release the second State of Nature report. Sadly, just like the first report back in 2013, it depicts the harrowing truths behind the ongoing declines to our biodiversity across the UK with intensive farming surging to the top of the list of reasons for the severe loss of species. This devastating realisation places Great Britain among the most depleted countries in the world for biodiversity.
The State of Nature report saw over 50 organisations working hand in hand to take stock of our native wildlife and determine the current predicament we have found ourselves in. The review states that we have seen a decline in 56% of species in the UK between 1970 and 2013, with 1 in 10 under threat. The RSPB quotes:
More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.
It is suggested within the report that the UK has lost significantly more nature over the long term than the global average.
This is serious.
how do we reverse the declines?
Building on from the previous State of Nature report, this one further highlights the need for continued and increased conservation projects and initiatives to run not only across the UK but also UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.
At present, conservation efforts are insufficient to put nature back where it belongs. The last 8 years have seen waves of economic uncertainty and with every bought of such anxiety comes a disproportionate impact on conservation resources. This has meant that public spending on UK biodiversity has fallen by 32%, from 0.037% of GDP in 2008 to 0.025% in 2014–15, according to JNCC… A vague recollection stirs in me of “the greenest government ever”… what a joke.
Conservation efforts can be found at all scales across the UK at local, regional and national level. We are incredibly lucky that we have a strong and passionate force of charities and volunteers striving to bring nature back, with recent successes including the otter, the large blue butterfly and the corncrake. It is imperative that everyone makes a stand to halt the decline and turn things around, that includes our governments, non-governmental organisations and charities, businesses, communities and individuals just like you.
The following are just some of the wide examples of conservation efforts going on and that need to continue and grown to support our biodiversity, reduce the declines and provide a future for our children:
- Protecting the best habitats through national and international legislation
- Improving habitats utilising decades of experience and facilitating species response to climate change
- Creating new wildlife sites by restoring degraded areas and incorporating ecosystem services
- Working beyond boundaries, seeking bigger, better, and more joined-up wildlife sites that function as a network rather than being ring-fenced
- Providing a bespoke approach to support specific species
- Tackling pressures such as climate change, invasive species, air and water pollution
Get involved in bringing nature back
If you are wondering how you can help, I recommend looking up your local Wildlife Trust or if you have a particular interest then take a peek at the Biological Records Centre list of recording schemes to see which one you would like to support and contribute to. The Natural History Museum has a page dedicated to Citizen Science projects that you can also get involved in to help answer big science questions around climate change and biodiversity.
There are a huge number of activities to get involved in that will all have an impact on bringing nature back – no matter how small. You may also find they help boost your own health and wellbeing in the process…
Click here to download the full ‘State of Nature’ report from the RSPB website.