Today is a big day.
For the first time, all the UK wildlife organisations have joined forces to compile a health check of nature in the UK and its overseas territories. This evening Sir David Attenborough will help us launch a new State of Nature report. We expect it will serve as a wake-up call to all of us to do more to help us live in harmony with nature.
The report comes in my favourite month of May. A time to reflect on the wonder of those birds that have migrated from Africa to breed here– species such as swift and swallows – a time to take pleasure in seeing our woodlands carpeted with bluebells and to enjoy seeing butterflies again after the long, dark days of winter. But there are real fears that the things we take for granted may not be part of our children's lives when they grow up. In my lifetime, once common species like the turtle dove has declined by more than 90%. Cuckoos down by 73% and nightingales down by nearly 50%. And my former employers,Plantlife, has shown that we are losing, on average, one plant every year from counties in England.
In preparing State of Nature, we have used new and innovative analyses include trend assessments for over 3000 species, and red-list assessments of over 6000 species; mostly derived from data collected by the UK's army of dedicated and skilled volunteer naturalists. Our analyses conclude that 60% of the species for which data are available have declined over recent decades; 31% strongly so. Nature is in flux. Over one in ten of the species assessed are threatened with extinction in the UK.
Understanding the state of the natural world is the foundation for nature conservation. We need to know what's in trouble and what progress we have made. This report reinforces the conclusions reached in 2010: that nature is continuing to decline, the pressures on the natural world are growing, and our response to the biodiversity crisis is slowing.
We know that we all need to do more to inspire moral, political and practical support for nature conservation.
And this is why, following the publication of the report we shall challenge all sectors of society to do more for nature.
We are not claiming to have all the answers but we're determined to do much more. We hope that the report, produced in this time of austerity, stimulates a public debate about what else we need to do to live in harmony with nature.
If you have thoughts on this or any aspect of the report, I'd be delighted to hear from you.
I have downloaded the report and started to read it. Let's hope the politicians finally start to listen.
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