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.

  • Politicians that have repeatedly committed to recovering threatened wildlife populations need to think about the natural world when they make big decisions about where to cut and where to invest.
  • Developers need to respect and protect the special places that people love.
  • Landowners should manage their land with wildlife in mind.
  • Businesses must find ways to make a profit without trashing the environment.
  • And all of us can do our bit by taking action for wildlife in our gardens and in our communities.

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. 

  • Well spotted, Mr Ibis.  

    The critique on auserity is fair, Peter.  

    Redkite/Mr Ibis - I will forgive Sir David just about anything...

  • ps I see the rspb have used their new logo on the report and their new strapline

    'giving nature a home'.

  • Bob, the report can be downloaded from the RSPB website. It's 92 pages but only takes about a minute on broadband. There are shorter summaries etc. available as well.

    I too was a bit disappointed to hear Sir David's comments about the RSPB on the BBC. Perhaps with the forthcoming re-invention of the society this will be addressed. But with 'birds' still in the title it's an uphill struggle to convince the general public of the broad remit that the RSPB now undertakes.

  • Martin

    Excellent news that this is now in the public domain.  Can I order a copy anywhere so that it can be read at leisure, I presume this is rather a weighty tome.  We must not hide behind austerity as an excuse to do nothing.  To some degree I take petercrispin's point, austerity is a term thrown at all of us by a few and there are certainly people in this country who should be able to take on the issues thrown up in this report and who could find the money to deal with them.

  • Firstly I would say that the dominant questions of "austerity" needs to be challenged. Is there one at all or are we living in an unsustainable "kleptocracy" where the offshore rich are "leaching" off our society and by failing to recycle "monies" driving recession ? this is happening on two levels firstly funds leaching "offshore" and then the paramount interest of the 60% of mortgaged home owners is dominating a false and bankrupt economics that asserts the interest of the city based "kleptocracy" over productive society. The price today in the UK of the private home mortgage is very very high and threatens the value of the pound sterling; while any real "sustainability" is utterly peripheral.

    I will be interested to see if Sir David actually advocates emission reductions or whether he perpetuates his normal fudges re impartiality and "climate change"within this unsustainable paradigm.