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The UK’s wildlife continues to decline – State of Nature 2019 report

A new State of Nature report was released today, providing an up to date assessment on how nature in the UK is faring.

The latest findings show that since rigorous scientific monitoring began in the 1970s there has been a 13% decline in average abundance across wildlife studied – and that the declines continue unabated.

The report reveals that 41% of UK species studied have declined, 26% have increased and 33% shown little change since 1970.

Earthwatch Europe was one of more than 70 wildlife organisations who partnered to produce the State of Nature 2019 report, which follows reports in 2013 and 2016. For the first time the partnership was also joined by government agencies, to present the clearest picture to date of the status of our species across land and sea.

Toos van Noordwijk, Director of Science, Policy and Innovation at Earthwatch said: “The 2019 State of Nature Report highlights the plight of our wildlife and shows that we are still a long way from leaving our environment in a better state than we found it, while the climate and biodiversity crises make painfully clear that this is desperately needed.

The report showcases a wide range of exciting conservation initiatives, with partnerships delivering inspiring results for some of the UK’s nature. Species such as Bitterns and the Large Blue Butterfly have been saved through the concerted efforts of organisations and individuals.

Earthwatch’s Naturehood project is profiled in the report, as an example of how conservational organisations are engaging people with garden wildlife. Going beyond isolated individual actions, the project empowers neighbours to work together to create Naturehoods – thriving networks of wildlife-rich space – to have a significant impact on biodiversity.

Toos van Noordwijk continues: “Amidst this serious message, the report also provides inspiration and hope. Thanks to the incredible hard work and determination of conservation charities and their army of volunteers, there are signs of recovery in some areas.

“As individuals we can all take positive action for nature, for example by avoiding pesticides, planting for pollinators or installing homes or feeders for local wildlife. And of course, we will make the biggest difference by working together, whether that be communities uniting to transform neighbourhoods into Naturehoods, or farmers coming together to improve water quality through catchment sensitive farming.”

Much is known about the causes of decline and about some of the ways in which we could reduce impacts and help struggling species. The evidence from the last 50 years shows that significant and ongoing changes in the way we manage our land for agriculture, and the ongoing effects of climate change are having the biggest impacts on nature.

Pollution is also a major issue. Whilst emissions of many pollutants have been reduced dramatically in recent decades, pollution continues to have a severe impact on the UK’s sensitive habitats and freshwaters, and new pollutant threats are continuing to emerge.

Daniel Hayhow, conservation ecologist at the RSPB and lead author on the State of Nature 2019 report, said: “In this report we have drawn on the best available data on the UK’s biodiversity, produced by partnerships between conservation NGOs, research institutes, UK and national governments, and thousands of dedicated volunteers. It’s through working together that we can help nature recover but the battle must intensify.”

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