A coalition of 50 wildlife and research organisations have published the State of Nature 2016 report.
It is a UK wide report with separate country reports and in Scotland it finds that one in every 11 species assessed is at risk of becoming extinct (9%) and for some groups of species that threat is even higher. For example, 18% of butterflies, 15% of dragonflies and 13% of plants are officially classified as being at risk of extinction. Across the UK as a whole, over one in ten species assessed are under threat of disappearing altogether (13%) and 2% have already become extinct.
As the Scottish and UK Governments move forward in the light of the EU Referendum result, there is an opportunity to secure world leading protection for our species and restoration of our nature. Now is the time to make ambitious decisions and significant investment in the environment to ensure year-on-year improvement to the health and protection of the country’s habitats and wildlife for future generations.
The State of Nature 2016 UK report was launched by Sir David Attenborough in London on Wednesday, while a separate event was held in Edinburgh to launch the Scottish report.
Sir David Attenborough said: “The natural world is in serious trouble and it needs our help as never before. The rallying call issued after the State of Nature report in 2013 has promoted exciting and innovative conservation projects. Landscapes are being restored, special places defended, struggling species being saved and brought back. But we need to build significantly on this progress if we are to provide a bright future for nature and for people. The future of nature is under threat and we must work together; governments, conservationists, businesses and individuals, to help it. Millions of people care very passionately about nature and the environment and I believe that we can work together to turn around the fortunes of wildlife.”
Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, said: “This report highlights the challenges which lie ahead in conserving Scotland’s wonderful nature. The Scottish Government is committed to driving forward Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy, the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity, and its accompanying Route Map to 2020. We will publish a progress report at the end of this month and early indications show the majority of actions included in the Route Map are on track to achieve their targets. We have so much to be proud of in Scotland and so much to protect and enhance. That means we all have much work to do and I look forward to working with our partners to improve the state of nature in Scotland.”
The RSPB press release states that “The widespread decline of nature in Scotland remains a serious problem to this day and there is little evidence to suggest that the rate of loss is slowing down. In order to help struggling species, we need to understand what’s causing these declines. Using evidence gathered as part of the State of Nature report, experts have identified that significant and ongoing changes in agricultural practices are having the single biggest impact on nature”.
Mark Eaton, one of the lead authors on the report, said: “Never before have we known this much about the state of nature in Scotland and the threats it is facing. The partnership and many landowners are using the knowledge we’re gathering to underpin some amazing scientific and conservation work. But more is needed to put nature back where it belongs – we must continue to work to help restore our land and sea for wildlife. There is a real opportunity for the Scottish and UK Governments to build on these efforts and deliver the significant investment and ambitious action needed to bring nature back from the brink. Of course, this report wouldn’t have been possible without the army of dedicated volunteers who brave all conditions to survey Scotland’s wildlife. Knowledge is the most essential tool that a conservationist can have, and without their efforts, our knowledge would be significantly poorer.”
For full copies of the Scottish and UK wide State of Nature 2016 reports, and to find out how you can do your bit to save wildlife visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/forprofessionals/science/research/projects/363867-the-state-of-nature-report#downloads