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UK is in danger of losing a quarter of its mammal population, major wildlife report says
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UK is in danger of losing a quarter of its mammal population, major wildlife report says

The Wild Cat and Greater Mouse-eared Bat are among those species teetering on the edge of disappearing, according to the State of Nature Report 2019, the first of its kind conducted in partnership with the government.

Other mammals in decline include the European Watervole, the Eurasian beaver, the European hegehog, the Orkney vole and the hazel dormouse. 

Nature is in decline, the wide-ranging survey has found, and 41 per cent of UK species studied have noticeably fewer numbers than when rigorous scientific study began in the 1970s.

Additionally, 15 per cent of species - nearly 1,200 - are threatened with extinction from Great Britain, because of intensive agriculture and climate change.

Butterflies and moths have been particularly hard hit, with numbers of butterflies down by 17 per cent  and moths down by 25 per cent. The numbers of species, such as the High Brown Fritillary and Grayling, that require more specialised habitats have declined by more than three quarters.

Britain has lost 133 species since the 16th century, and this extinction is likely to accelerate if the country does not take drastic action, wildlife charities have said.

The government needs to create urban jungles and nature corridors for animals, the National Trust and Wildlife Trusts have argued, in order to create and restore habitats for Britain's threatened species.

The Wildlife Trusts said: "Too often we’ve seen wildlife forced into fewer and smaller pockets of wild space, surrounded by urban development or intensive agriculture.  This reduces nature’s resilience to climate change.

"To allow nature to recover, we need to reconnect the fragmented sites that remain – stitching back together Britain’s tattered natural fabric of wild land and creating more space for wildlife."

Invasive species have also been identified as a threat to our fauna and flora, as they out-compete native animals and spread diseases among them.

However, there is hope for our species. Butterfly Conservation, which co-authored the report, found that conservation efforts can be successful, and pointed out that some of our most threatened bug species, such as Duke of Burgundy and Large Blue, have been brought back from the brink.

Similarly, the River Thames, which was recently "ecologically dead" due to pollution, continues to make progress and now boasts eels, seahorses, porpoises and a growing seal population.

The National Trust has called for ambitious new laws to ensure wide-ranging conservation efforts take place.

Rosie Hails, Nature and Science Director at the National Trust said: “We need a strong new set of environmental laws to hold our governments and others to account and to set long-term and ambitious targets.  Only a robust approach to environmental protections and law making can deliver this for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  But it’s not just government that needs to act; we can also all do our own bit for nature and wildlife including nature-friendly planting in our backyards and choosing peat-free composts for our gardens that protect precious peatland habitats.”

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