Less than 70 years ago, ponds were a common feature of the farmland landscape, and were routinely managed just like hedgerows. Since the 1950s, many ponds have been filled in to reclaim more land for farming; however, a large number have been left unmanaged, meaning they have become overgrown with trees and bushes, making them dark and uninhabitable to many species.
Ponds restored by the Norfolk Ponds Project, were compared to neighbouring unmanaged and overgrown ponds; restored ponds contained twice as many bird species and almost three times as many birds, as the overgrown ponds.
Bird species at the restored ponds included skylark, linnet, yellowhammer and starling, all species that are Red Listed in the UK because they have declined drastically in recent years.
There were 95 sightings of these four species in and around the restored ponds, which compared to just two sightings of yellowhammer and none of skylark, starling or linnet at the unrestored ponds.
The total number of birds visiting was also greater at restored ponds with almost three times as many birds attracted to the restored ponds. This was shown to be linked to the abundant insect food resources emerging from restored ponds.
“Restored ponds are teeming with insects, and because different ponds have insect peaks on different days, birds can move from pond to pond, and get the food that they need. A network of high-quality ponds is, therefore, brilliant for birds in the breeding season.”
With a network of restored ponds across the landscape, birds were able to move between insect emergence events, providing an ongoing insect food resource during the breeding season.
The research comes at a time when farmland birds are under huge threat, having declined by 55 per cent in the last 50 years, largely due to changes in agricultural management to increase food production, according to the recent State of Nature 2019 report.
As well as providing a beneficial habitat for woodland birds, farmland ponds also provide an important landscape feature, and act as stepping-stones for other wildlife including frogs and dragonflies.
“Our research shows how important it is to restore and manage ponds in farmland. Here in Gloucestershire, preliminary evidence suggests we have lost around two-thirds of our farmland ponds since 1900. That’s why we have been working with Farming & Wildlife Advisory group (FWAG SouthWest) and local farmers to restore a number of ponds across different farms on the Severn Vale.”
“Even following long periods of dormancy, overgrown farmland ponds can quickly come back to life, with plants, amphibians and insects starting to colonise them in a matter of months. That is why this research could be an important pointer of where the UK’s environmental and agricultural policy should focus post Brexit.”
Carl Sayer of University College London Pond Restoration Group said: “The research on birds was inspired by Norfolk farmer Richard Waddingham. His constant belief has always been that farming and wildlife can co-exist and with wildlife declining at an alarming rate, at no time in history do we need to make this work more than now. Restoring farmland ponds is clearly part of a positive way forward.”
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit puffin. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit puffin-hole, and that means comfort.”
And so the story begins for the puffins, I mean the hobbits, according to J.R.R. Tolkien, of course. I could be forgiven for hoping that J.R.R.Tolkien was inspired by puffins when he devised the short, wobbly, round-bellied, food-loving, funny-looking creatures that live in a hole in the ground, which he named hobbits. Even his own fictional etymology traces the word to ‘holbytla’, which he created by combining the two real Old English words ‘hol’ (hole) and ‘bytland’ (to build) – a name that would be not completely unfit for the puffins either.
Like hobbits, Atlantic puffins build their homes underground, digging holes using their bills and powerful claws, to create a tunnel that leads to a larger inner chamber for the nest. And also like hobbits, puffins like their home comforts and line their nests with soft grasses and feathers, to keep the egg and later the chick safe and warm. They are very tidy too, and manage to keep the chick clean by using a toilet chamber located in a bend before the main room.
And finally, like hobbits again, they do not like unexpected visitors, defending their burrows from envious neighbours, fighting food thieves like gulls, and avoiding, however they can, attacks from invasive predators such as rats, cats and ferrets.
Knowing all this, Birds On The Edge has been trying to improve the homes and breeding grounds of our Jersey puffins, especially in view of he precarious state of the population – down to four pairs from more than a hundred in the space of a century. Sadly, this follows the trend of many other puffin colonies around the world, which have declined or collapsed due to causes ranging from loss of habitat, predation from invasive species and human-caused disturbance, amongst others.
Over the last year we have been monitoring the puffins and other seabirds in their breeding cliffs of the north coast, studying the potential predators in the area and noting the presence of people for leisure and commercial purposes too.
We have also built and installed puffin nest-boxes in some cliffs in the north coast, so that they can be used as artificial burrows by prospecting new pairs. Our breeding puffins, all four pairs of them, already go back to the same burrow each year, so with the boxes we are hoping to attract new pairs recruiting into Jersey’s population, especially ones who were born here and are ready to settle (puffins take 5-6 years to be mature).
As for the boxes themselves, there have been various designs, all following the concept of a tunnel leading to a main chamber. We have stuck to this, building a closed box with a roof, which is completely buried. The access to the chamber is via a 1m-long pipe which is buried too, so that the entrance from outside looks like a hole in the ground. The box is almost one metre long and has a small partition near the entrance, to create the illusion of the toilet chamber, should they like to use it for this purpose. As finishing touches to the installation we packed a layer of mud and soil against the back wall, to give the puffins the chance to dig a bit if they wanted to, without going too far, and for the same reason the boxes have no floor, but a good layer of soil so that the puffins can shift the ground about and decorate their nest as they please.
Digging and burying the boxes in the cliffs wasn’t an easy task; Geomarine sent their “rope team” to assist the rangers of the National Trust and Natural Environment for the job. The team successfully installed some of the boxes in an otherwise inaccessible slope, which was deemed suitable for the artificial burrows.
With the breeding season upon us and our puffin pairs due to arrive anytime now, we will be keeping a close eye on the seas around Plémont, hoping to see the faithful locals come back to their usual spots, and even better to see new pairs flying into the cliffs, their purpose-built homes waiting for them.
The boxes might be a bit too small for a hobbit, but we hope our puffins will approve of their very own Puffin Shire.
The Jersey Bat Group are holding an open evening 1st April to welcome anyone who would like to know more about the work they do. The group invites anyone with an interest in conservation, wildlife volunteering, public engagement or arts and crafts to come along to find out about the volunteering opportunities and training they have to offer.
PLEASE NOTE there may be disruption to planned events through concerns over Covid-19 so watch out for any changes to plans.
Over the last few years, the Jersey Bat Group has been busy. They have discovered new records of bat species in the Island, learnt more about the roost sites of different bat species, increased public awareness by providing talks and walks for schools, building professionals and other organisations. Members have learnt new skills including identifying different species of bats from sounds and appearance, rope access skills to check for roosts in trees, advanced survey skills to carefully trap bats for analysis in the hand and release. Members have also assisted with the ringing of bats as part of licenced projects studying the movement and migration of bats and help track radio-tagged bats to find out where they live and forage.
As the hibernation season draws to a close, the group are gearing up for another busy season of public engagement and research. There are lots of activities that you can get involved in even if you haven’t got any previous experience. For the seasoned bat enthusiasts there are plenty of opportunities for you to develop and grow your skills with the advanced surveys.
The April meeting will give an overview of some of the activities volunteers can get involved in and you will be able to sign up on the spot! Activities include:
Public engagement – including stalls, public walks and talks. This year’s focus is on light pollution and the effect this has on humans as well as nocturnal wildlife
Fund raising – e.g. pub quizzes, stalls, cake sales, bat themed merchandise and any other great ideas volunteers may have
Transect surveys – walking a set route after sunset with a bat detector to record bat activity
Passive acoustic surveys – assisting with the collection of data from bat detectors left at sites to record activity at a specific site (great for those who prefer to volunteer during daylight hours!)
Sound analysis – learn to analyse the recordings from the surveys above to identify the species of bat present and see if the bats are feeding or socialising as well as echolocating to find their way around
Members’ activity walks – informal walks, usually monthly, where members can learn to use bat detectors and chat to others about all things batty
Roost monitoring –
counting bats as they emerge from known roosts. This helps us to see how bats are doing year on year and if populations are increasing or declining
Checking bat boxes
Advanced bat surveys – trapping bats so we can find out more about the breeding status of different bat species within the Island and learn more about the cryptic species of bat in Jersey (these sound similar on the acoustic survey, so the way we find out more is by looking closely at the bats to identify the specific species)
Arts ‘n’ crafts – we are keen to recruit artistic or creative volunteers to make batty themed products for the stall and liven up our website and social media.
Amy Hall, Chair of the Jersey Bat Group, said “Bats are fascinating and often misunderstood mammals. We are hoping that this open meeting and volunteer drive will help both dispel the negative myths about bats and also to enthuse members of the public to help us with bat conservation and research.
You don’t need to be a member of the group to attend but there will be some membership forms available on the night for anyone wanting to become more involved, or just to support the work we do.”
People with a passion for nature can learn how to survey and protect our native reptiles and become Wild Volunteers at a free training event on Saturday 14 March.
Reptilewatch JE 2020 (which runs from 9:45am to 4:30pm at La Moye School) will teach people about the four native reptile species that can be found in Jersey, how to survey and assess habitats as well as providing some guidance on the identification other wildlife that they may encounter along the way.
The event will offer two different levels of training for up to 50 volunteers. All volunteers can train for both Level 1 and Level 2, and do not need to have any previous experience:
Level 1 will give the volunteers the skills they need to run a 30-minute survey in their own time.
Level 2 will give volunteers the skills they need to run a minimum of six surveys between April and October, using more complex methods.
The data collected by volunteers will be used to monitor the health of reptiles and their habitats and record the number of animals within the survey areas.
Nina Cornish, Research Ecologist, said: “We would like to encourage anyone who is interested in finding out more about Jersey’s reptiles to come along and see how they can get involved. The data collected from citizen science schemes like Reptilewatch is used to evaluate the future trends and action necessary to conserve these protected species.
“We rely on the kind support and commitment of Wild Volunteers, who allow us to run more surveys and gain a better understanding of the health of Jersey’s environment so that we can protect it for future generations.”
The Pollinator Project.JE has launched in Jersey which aims to help Jersey’s pollinators and their habitats. Pollinators move pollen from the flower to another flower, this results in fertilization that produces fruit and seeds. Without pollinators we would not get the reproduction of plants that create food and habitats for humans and other animal species. Pollinators are key for our survival with food security relying on their pollinating skills, so protecting them and helping to improve their environment is vital. Guernsey launched their pollinator project in 2017 and Jersey’s team are working alongside Guernsey and the other Channel Islands to replicate their success bringing together a variety of organisations to help.
Pollinator is a term that encompasses a wide range of species. Our focus is on pollinating insects and they may include many different species of insects such as hoverflies, beetles, flies, butterflies and moths. The decline in pollinating insects has also resulted in a decline in the number of birds across the UK with an 8% decline since 1970. The Pollinator Project will work to address a number of risks associated by disease and invasive species, such as Asian hornets. We will work together in partnership with other groups to support pollinators across the island.
The pollinator project will involve educational work in schools, habitat management and monitoring to help identify our species and habitats so that we can begin to enhance what is already in existence.
Through 2019 we will be sharing information, advice and top tips. So, if you’re into gardening you could plant native pollinator friendly plants such as Lavender (Lavandula munstead), save a space for pollinator native plants in your garden. Soon enough you will see patches dedicated to pollinators popping up over our Island; in schools, parks and gardens, work places and the countryside.
Let us know what pollinators you have spotted by sending a record to the Jersey Biodiversity Centre. This information will be added to a pollinator map for the island. We will also be running dedicated surveys of pollinators in the newly created pollinator patches. For the time being let us know what you’ve seen and add photos to your record to help with the verification of the species.
This weekend, 1st and 2nd February sees the 19th annual Jersey Great Garden Bird Survey (we started in 2002) in conjunction with Action for Wildlife Jersey and the Jersey Evening Post. There goes the weather! Remember the Beast From the East? Apparently (so the UK’s tabloids would have us believe) expect the Pest From the West! Whatever the weather, please count the birds in your garden (instructions below) and use the form which you can download here.
This annual count of the birds in the Island’s gardens has proven invaluable to our understanding of what is happening with many of our favourite species, the ones we often share our daily lives with and cherish. After all, and this may bypass the occasional world leader, what is happening in the birds’ world is happening in ours!
The method of the count is very straight forward. Basically you just need to look out into the garden for a few minutes (I just look out the kitchen window) and write down what birds you see and the maximum number of each species. And, of course, red squirrels count again as birds this year. Just for one weekend!
Once you’ve counted the birds (and squirrels) on your chosen day please fill out the form (here) and email to BOTE at email@example.com or drop off at the JEP office. Alternatively you can fill out the form in the JEP or pick up a form from one of the Island’s garden centres (Ransoms, St Peters, Animal Kingdom or Pet Cabin at Le Quesne’s) and leave it with them.
During last year’s count (read more here) the Top 16 birds recorded were (average per reporting garden):
House sparrow 6.9
Wood pigeon 1.77
Great tit 1.6
Blue tit 1.6
Collared dove 1.4
Song thrush 0.26
Great spotted woodpecker 0.12
Our honorary bird, the red squirrel, at 0.4 per garden, would have been 11th.
So, please take part this weekend, enjoy the birds (and squirrels) and consider yourself citizen scientists!
A little later than in previous years, we are very pleased to update everyone on the Channel Islands’ birds. Two new species were added to the Islands list and unlike some of last year’s (here) they were ‘proper’ species, not those cryptic ones hiding in plain sight. Although Guernsey did add the previously ‘hidden’ Iberian chiffchaff and Caspian gull to their own list in 2018.
With some revisions (Jersey’s saker falcon, probably an escape, was demoted), the overall total for the Islands only actually went up by one so now stands at 377. I was right, last year, that Alderney would add little bunting to their total but they still haven’t reached 300. Losing a bean goose (its become two species and while Jersey can confirm records of both taiga and tundra bean, Guernsey and Alderney decided that they couldn’t retrospectively confirm the tundra version) put them back one, the little bunting brought them back up to 298. The wait for 300 goes on!
And, in the separate islands, Guernsey added the three species above but also saw their first pallid swifts with birds seen in October and November. Offshore Guernsey birders recorded their Island and the whole CI’s third Wilson’s petrel. And, to rub it in with their southern neighbours the royal tern continued to hang around until May and still didn’t visit Jersey.
In Alderney, the impressive effort continued and besides the little bunting, long awaited second records of goosander, Iceland gull and Richard’s and tawny pipits were logged. There were also three records of great egret, a rapidly spreading species, and two of cirl bunting, a species, in contrast, considered to be in decline and exhibiting limited movements. Interestingly, Sark also saw a cirl bunting, their first since, well, a long time ago. Jersey has breeding cirl buntings but they were absent from the Island from 2004-2012 pointing to more movement in this species than had been expected (and look out for more news on this beautiful bird next year!).
Guernsey also recorded local rarities in Canada and pink-footed goose, penduline tit and corn bunting. Sark added records of only rarely recorded red kite, nightjar and hawfinch with their cirl bunting.
In Jersey, besides the two CI firsts, above, the first Island record of Pallas’s leaf warbler meant that a gap in the CI list was finally filled in – there have been 18 previous records of this warbler across the other three islands. There were also seconds for Barolo shearwater, little crake and Caspian gull. The little crake was found in poor health and died in care. A third common rosefinch and third dusky warbler were also notable.
Two further wading birds made contrasting appearances in the islands in 2018 with a Kentish plover recorded in Jersey for the third time since 2000 and six black-winged stilts seen (two in Jersey and four in Alderney). Kentish plover is a former breeder in Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney (last breeding in 1974) whereas the stilt was only first seen in the islands, in Guernsey, in 1987 and has now been recorded in 13 separate years.
The full A Working List of the Birds of the Channel Islands can be downloadedhere
A blog post about cute pigs?! Nah. I’m just throwing you off the scent. Click bait. It is the monthly chough report of course with everything that happened in September.
Scoping out the racecourse
The chough flock spent at lot of time in September foraging around Les Landes Racecourse. There appeared to be plenty of insects available in the soil. Leatherjackets (cranefly larvae) from the looks of things although viewing through a scope a some distance adds uncertainty.
We still have a fair few turn up at the supplemental feed. The noticeable difference is that they are taking less food. Instead of finding empty food dishes within an hour of food being put out we find leftover pellet. Presumably because they have eaten so well out and about in the mornings.
Our rodent-proof food stands mean we can leave the leftovers for the choughs to snack on later. Hunger should not be a problem for Jersey’s choughs this month!
Class of 2019 suffer another setback
Another dead juvenile has been found out on the north coast. The body was found by a dog walker near Devil’s Hole. The lady regularly visits Sorel and knew when we would be feeding so kindly handed over the remains. We identified the bird as PP042 who fledged this year in the quarry. Not a huge surprise as they were on the missing birds list.
The surprise was the condition of the bird…headless and, on X-ray, very broken. You can see shattered bone in the left humerus (circled red in the image below). Our vet was a bit baffled at the post-mortem. The injuries sustained are something he is more familiar with seeing from a bird that had been hit by a car. Plus we don’t know if all this happened after the bird died or before.
We do know this means there are only 11 juveniles remaining. Three of those have not been seen in a long time. If they are still unaccounted for in October we will have to assume the worse.
PP035 is one juvenile very much alive and kicking. She was caught up mid-September because one of her plastic rings was unraveling. Not an easy thing to do for a bird to do. It would have required force. The ring was replaced and this time a lot of glue was used to seal the overlapping edges. She looked in good health and was released straight away.
The flock of sheep at Sorel were moved off site this month as part of their management plan.
There was, however, one little sheep who avoided the round-up. We found her merrily grazing away at the aviary. She had pushed through the fencing and entered the hedgerow bank rather cunningly hiding in the hedgerow when the shepherd was around and reappearing at the chough feed.
With a bit a team work and a lot of patience she was eventually moved out (it gave our push-mower a bit of a break!).
After seven years of working out at Sorel it felt quite eerie to visit and have no sheep and no choughs*. You can still find the sheep in various locations around Jersey doing their bit for conservation grazing. Maybe it could become the next rewilding game #whereswoolly?
*don’t worry we haven’t removed the birds, they do that themselves by flying off during the day.
Flocking season in the Zoo
At this time of year, with breeding over, we normally move all the Zoo choughs back into one aviary. This mimics the flocking behaviour you see in choughs over winter. However, this year was a bit different.
This is the first year we have had only one breeding pair at Jersey Zoo. It is also the first year we haven’t released parent-reared chicks. So that means trying to mix a family of four with the only other chough we have – Gianna.
Normally the other choughs ignore Gianna, but with one family and an uninvited guest in their territory things are a little different. We have made three attempts to mix Gianna with the group this month. The first time we assumed tensions were high because the male in the family had only just been moved back. He had been housed separately for the past two months due to bad behaviour. We gave him some more time to settle in and calm down before the next attempt. No change. We waited again. Surely the hormones had settled? Nope.
As soon as I leave the aviary the pair fly over and shout loudly at Gianna. If I then walk away from Gianna, they dive-bomb her and it gets physical. Thankfully, Gianna is thick skinned and once I’m back inside with her she returns to preening and picking out insects.
Sadly for Gianna I can’t live in the aviary and be 24-hr bodyguard (although the rent would be free). She has been moved back to her off-show aviary and might have to stay in there over winter.
New placement student
If Gianna does have to stay off-show she will receive lots of attention because….fanfare please…we have a student placement again! After more than a year with a vacant position, Flavio has joined the project.
He is with us until March and has already got stuck in to the task at hand. As evident in the video below. Faceal sampling for health checks, camera trap reviews for roost ID, and dealing with a dead chough all in Week 1.
Flavio has previously worked on a beetle conservation project in the UK so we are hoping to put his survey skills to use in Jersey. His mode of transport is a bicycle so be sure to give him a wide berth if you are overtaking – he has an expensive scope in his bag. I wouldn’t want it damaged!
The annual Inter-Islands Environmental Meeting was held in Alderney this year hosted by the Alderney Wildlife Trust. With the theme of Wilder Islands, delegates attended a two day symposium highlighting work carried out across the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and islands of the British Overseas Territories. Birds On The Edge was represented by myself and Cristina Sellares with Glyn Young joining on the challenging third day.
The third day was a mixture of talks and working groups tackling the challenges islanders face with biodiversity and climate change. Tony Juniper gave the introductory keynote speech.
We were also treated to an evening lecture from Dr George McGavin the esteemed entomologist and patron of the Alderney Wildlife Trust.
A separate blog will be posted going into more detail. The highlights for this report include the mention we got in Jamie Marsh’s talk on the white-tailed sea eagle reintroduction in the Isle of Wight. Guess where we might be taking choughs next? And our first possible sighting of a Jersey chough visiting Sark! Suffice to say our holidays work plans for 2020 are quickly filling up.
Building on the success of the Jersey choughs, can reintroduced choughs help restore Kent’s chalk grasslands? Could we eventually join the Cornish population and Kentish population to bring back this charismatic bird to England’s entire south coast as in days gone by? Ok, that last bit is jumping the gun. Although it is early days, the KCP are certainly working hard to make sure the first aim is achievable.
You can click the link here to read about Kent Wildlife Trust’s vision for a Wilder Kent.
Climate change is a major global threat to humanity and nature. It threatens to undermine our water and food supplies, it’s fueling extreme weather and some mega-cities are predicted to disappear under rising sea levels.
So conservationists were flummoxed by studies which showed climate change is having a stronger effect upon species which benefit from climate change compared to those which suffer negative impacts.
The authors of a major study investigating 525 bird species over 30 years and across two continents believed there could be a time lag in the response of populations to climate change, creating an ‘extinction debt’. They were also concerned most studies cover time spans too short to pick up on shrinking habitat ranges and focused on changes in range, rather than change in numbers.
But the most detailed report of its kind to date has turned theories about the effects of climate change upon birds on their head.
Despite carefully examining the population trends of over 500 bird species over three decades, the researchers found no evidence climate change has a more profound effect upon birds which should cope well with climate change compared to those which might struggle. Climate change is causing widespread population change in birds.
The researchers called for further research into the long-term consequences of climate change on wildlife to be commissioned urgently.
Earlier this month a landmark paper inScience (read about it here) suggested the loss of nearly 3 billion birds in North America over the last fifty years linked to a range of factors, such as habitat loss and intensive agriculture, were all exacerbated by climate change. The new study, led by the RSPB, goes even further and argues climate change may be a major driver of population change in birds, aggravated by other factors.
Head of Species Monitoring and Research, Conservation Science at the RSPB, Prof. Richard Gregory said: “Our precious wildlife is already struggling to cope with habitat destruction, farming practices, pollution, harmful fishing and invasive non-native species humans have introduced into fragile eco-systems.
“The climate crisis and biodiversity crisis are two sides of the same coin and need to be tackled together.
Scientists from around Europe contributed to the report, which was led by the RSPB.
Download the full paper Population responses of bird populations to climate change on two continents vary with species’ ecological traits but not with direction of change in climate suitability here
There is further alarming news from North America where Audubon scientists took advantage of 140 million observations, recorded by birders and scientists, to describe where 604 North American bird species live today. They then used the latest climate models to project how each species’ range will shift as climate change and other human impacts advance across the continent.
The results are clear: Birds will be forced to relocate to find favourable homes. And they may not survive. Read their report Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink here
And feeling like you can’t make a difference? That couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s where to begin and how to amplify your efforts to make lasting change in the world – read Audubon’s guide to climate action here
The UK’s wildlife continues to decline according to the State of Nature 2019 report. 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.
Following the State of Nature reports in 2013 and 2016, leading professionals from more than 70 wildlife organisations have joined with government agencies for the first time, to present the clearest picture to date of the status of our species across land and sea.
The State of Nature 2019 report also reveals that 41% of UK species studied have declined, 26% have increased and 33% shown little change since 1970, while 133 species assessed have already been lost from our shores since 1500.
Butterflies and moths have been particularly hard hit with numbers of butterflies down by 17% and moths down by 25%. The numbers of species, such as the high brown fritillary and grayling, that require more specialised habitats have declined by more than three quarters.
The UK’s mammals also fare badly with greater than 26% of species at risk of disappearing altogether. The wild cat and greater mouse-eared bat are among those species teetering on the edge of disappearing.
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, lead author on the report, 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 if we are to put nature back where it belongs. Governments, conservation groups and individuals must continue to work together to help restore our land and sea for wildlife and people in a way that is both ambitious and inspiring for future generations”
“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.”
Whilst the data that the report shows are alarming there is also cause for some cautious hope. 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 large blue butterfly have been saved through the concerted efforts of organisations and individuals.
Reflecting growing concern about the environmental and climate emergencies, public support for conservation also continues to grow, with NGO expenditure up by 26% since 2010/11 and time donated by volunteers having increased by 40% since 2000. However, public sector expenditure on biodiversity in the UK, as a proportion of GDP, has fallen by 42% since a peak in 2008/09.
The report has a foreword by a collective of young conservationists who are passionate about conservation and the future of our wildlife and nature to preserve it for future generations.
Dan Rouse, a young conservationist said, “Nature is something that shaped my childhood, that allowed me to be free to use my sense of wonder, and to gain an insight into the wonderful world of nature! It’s young people that are now picking up the baton to save our nature – we’ve already lost Corn Buntings and Nightingales in Wales – how long until they’re gone from the rest of the UK? Along with the eerie calls of curlew and the gentle purr of the turtle doves.”
Sophie Pavelle, a young conservationist said “What a huge wake-up call 2019 has been! I have felt the loss of nature more acutely this year than any other. A dawn chorus less deafening, hedgerows less frantic, bizarre, worrying weather…it seems that in a more complex world nature is tired, muted and confused. People protect what they love, and if we can find quirky, empowering ways to encourage young people to connect with nature emotionally and see it as something they can truly champion – only then can we dig deep to find real hope for a brighter, sustained future for our natural world.”
Locally, partners in the report include Channel Islands representatives (see the list below) and Guernsey’s Andy McCutcheon, Principal Environment Services Officer, Agriculture, Countryside & Land Management Services (ACLMS) “Guernsey welcomes the opportunity to be part of the State of Nature report. The report paints a picture which should concern everyone. We have had a Biodiversity Strategy in place for nearly four years and this report forces us to face facts. It is only by understanding what we are losing and how we are losing it that we can begin to reverse the serious decline in our species rich habitats such as unimproved grassland.”
Download a full copy of the State of Nature 2019 report here and to find out how you can do your bit to save UK wildlife. Reports and summaries for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also available here
The State of Nature 2019 UK partnership includes: A Focus On Nature, A Rocha, Action for Conservation, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC), Association of Local Environmental Records Centres (ALERC), Badenoch & Strathspey Conservation Group, Bat Conservation Ireland, Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), Biodiversity Ireland, Biological Records Centre (BRC), Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, British Arachnological Society (BAS), British Bryological Society (BBS), British Dragonfly Society (BDS), British Lichen Society, British Mycological Society (BMS), British Pteridological Society (BPS), British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), Chester Zoo, Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Continuous Plankton Recorder, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Durrell), Earthwatch, Freshwater Habitats Trust, Friends of the Earth, Froglife, Isle of Man Government, iSpot (The Open University), Jersey Government Department of the Environment, John Muir Trust, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), Local Environmental Records Centre Wales, Mammal Society, Manx BirdLife, Marine Biological Association (MBA), Marine Conservation Society, Marine Ecosystems Research Programme, MARINELife, National Biodiversity Network (NBN), National Forum for Biological Recording, CEDAR Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, National Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Natural England (NE), Natural History Museum, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Northern Ireland Bat Group, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), ORCA, People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), Plantlife, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Scottish Badgers, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Scottish Environment Link, Scottish Wild Land Group, Shark Trust, States of Guernsey, The Fungus Conservation Trust, Trees for Life, Ulster Wildlife Trust, University of Plymouth, University of Sheffield, Vincent Wildlife Trust, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), Wildlife Trusts, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust, WWF, Zoological Society of London (ZSL).