Science

More than a quarter of UK mammals face extinction, says new report

The State of Nature report released this week shows the drastic impact of climate change on UK animals, plants and wildlife

Pine Marten: Previously endangered animal that has been brought back in the Forest of Dean due to the work of volunteers. Source: Phil Fiddes (via Flickr)

By Holly Giles

A new report from The State of Nature was published last week, looking at the distribution of UK wildlife and the changes in animal and plant abundance across our country. One of the most shocking figures from the report was that 26% of UK mammals are at serious risk of extinction. It also said one in seven species are threatened with extinction, and 41% of species have declined in the last fifty years. And it’s not just animals that are at risk: 20% of plants and 15% of fungi are also facing extinction. This may not be as compelling as cute rabbits and chicks but plants and fungi are fundamental to our ecosystems and are the building blocks for the rest of our wildlife to thrive upon.

The lead author of the report, Daniel Hayhow from the RSPB, said: “We know more about the UK’s wildlife than any other country on the planet, and what it is telling us should make us sit up and listen. We need to respond more urgently across the board.” Rosie Hails, from the National Trust, confirmed this statement by saying: “The UK’s wildlife is in serious trouble… we are now at a crossroads when we need to pull together with actions rather than words.” These views echo the news headlines seen daily calling the public to action against climate change and global warming.

The report, however, did have one positive finding: the amount of time donated by volunteers to environmental projects has increased by 40% since 2000, amounting to 7.5m hours. People across the country are getting involved in this movement and it has already had an impressive effect in the Forest of Dean where charity organisations are responsible for the return of the pine marten, which is one of the rarest mammals in Britain. 

People are reacting but as this new report confirms, we are not doing it fast enough or significantly enough to meet the needs of our environment. UK mammals need our immediate attention, otherwise the Great British Countryside will be changed forever.

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