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From early childhood, the emotional links we build with wildlife can have a vital effect on how we see the world. Our ancestors may well have enjoyed watching curlews on our uplands, merlins on our heaths and puffins around our sea cliffs. Nowadays however, our younger generation may have never laid eyes on any of these wonderful species. True, the world, and the landscape, may have changed significantly in comparison to when our ancestors were alive. Nevertheless, it’s vital that we don’t lose that connection to nature – particularly as each and every one of us can play a part in saving nature.

Sadly the curlew, merlin and puffin are amongst a growing list of 55 species now under threat in Wales, as stated in the recently published Birds of Conservation Concern in Wales 2016 (BoCCW) report. The Wales Red list has more birds on it than ever before, with an astonishing nine species added from the previous BoCCW report in 2009.

The kittiwake and whinchat have alarmingly jumped from the Green list to the Red list, highlighting the pressures affecting our breeding seabirds and upland birds. The kittiwake joins threatened seabirds like the globally important puffin and arctic tern whose range is declining. The whinchat joins fellow long-distance migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa and humid tropics, such as the cuckoo and wood warbler on the Red list.

The Red list includes more upland birds than any other habitat. Whinchats, merlins and long-eared owls are the latest additions. Decades of land-use and environmental changes has modified our beautiful upland affecting both the quality and connectedness of the habitats they rely on. Where the curlew’s call and the lapwing’s quiff was once an all too often sight on our uplands, today you’d be lucky to come across these wonderful birds at all.

Positive highlights are few and far between, with one being the barn owl. Having previously been Amber listed, it now ranks on the Green list due to recovery in numbers and range. Another well-known conservation success is the Amber listed red kite. Once on the brink of extinction in the UK, targeted action by conservation organisations and dedicated volunteers secured a dramatic recovery for the majestic bird of prey. Wales is also at the forefront of the red kite’s magnificent recovery and would be Green listed if it weren’t for its continued threatened status in Europe.

The Red – Amber – Green lists are created with each species judged on particular statistics. Species are placed on the Red list if they are globally important; have declined historically; show recent severe decline or have failed to recover from historic decline. Species are placed on the Amber list if they are important in Europe; show recent moderate decline; show some recovery from historical decline or occur in internationally important numbers; have a highly localised distribution or are important to the wider UK. Any species not classed in the previous criteria are Green listed, and therefore not under immediate threat in Wales.

The five-yearly BoCCW report forms a crucial part of our understanding of the situations our precious birds find themselves in. This report becomes an integral part of the evidence used to plan and deliver conservation action, ensuring brighter futures for our lovely wildlife. Together, we can ensure these threatened species continue to call Wales their home.