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Friday, October 04, 2019

How climate change is hitting wildlife

The latest State of Nature report, which draws on scientific monitoring since the 1970s, concludes that the UK’s wildlife is dying out and many species will go extinct if urgent action is not taken.

The Independent says leading professionals from more than 70 wildlife organisations have joined government agencies to create the comprehensive report, which warns wildlife declines continue “unabated”:

Among thousands of mammal and plant species assessed, 15 per cent are threatened with being lost from Britain, including wildcats and greater mouse-eared bats.

More than two-fifths of UK species including animals, birds and butterflies have seen significant declines in recent decades, the study found.

Since 1500 around 133 species have already vanished from Britain’s shores, including birds such as the wryneck and serin, which were lost as breeding birds in the 20th century.

The report continues: Data on nearly 700 species of land, freshwater and sea animals, fish, birds, butterflies and moths reveals 41 per cent have seen populations decline since 1970, while 26 per cent have increased.

More intensive agriculture is driving declines in farmland nature, while climate change is also having an increasing effect, with average UK temperatures rising by 1C since the 1980s.

Pollution continues to cause problems for natural areas such as streams, despite legislation to curb harmful pollutants, according to the report.

The study, which comes after similar analyses in 2013 and 2016, also shows butterfly and moth numbers have been particularly badly hit.

Butterfly numbers have fallen by 17 per cent on average and moths by 25 per cent.

Populations of some butterflies, such as the high brown fritillary and grayling, which need specialised habitats, are down by more than three-quarters since 1970.

However, the report also highlights successes such as the return of red kites, bitterns, large blue butterflies and beavers to Britain, and the establishment of lady’s slipper orchids at 11 sites in northern England.

It is difficult to know how to tackle this, but certainly more ambitious climate change targets and increased investment in protecting, enhancing and creating new habitats must feature strongly.
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