Comment and analysis by Leicester Green Party, and its fellow-travellers
In 2013, a number of wildlife NGO’s came together to write & publish an overview of how the UK’s wildlife is faring, called The State of Nature. It’s key finding was that of the species we have long term population trends for, 60% have declined and 37% have declined strongly in the past 50 years. Additionally, this report considers that prior to the last 50 years there have been considerable declines in many species due to habitat loss & fragmentation. So what’s changed since then? Well, 53 wildlife NGO’s (NB: so called ‘shooting & conservation’ organisations strangely absent from the reports supporters/contributors) have just produced an update to this report.
I don’t intend this post to depress or disempower anyone (as with previous posts there’s a few suggestions on helping to reverse the decline in nature at the end) but it’s not looking good. Some of the key findings are that…
… of the population data we have for 7,964 species was assessed using the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List criteria; 15% are either are extinct or threatened with extinction.
… an index used to assess how intact a country’s ecosystems are has found that we are amongst the most environmentally depleted nations on earth.
… recognition of this huge issue is rapidly increasing; in 2013, the first State of Nature report was co-authored by 25 wildlife organisations. The 2016 update has been backed by 53. Let’s hope there is increasing recognition of the decline in biodiversity & support for the solutions from politicians & the public, too.
We’ll see how DEFRA & the new Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom respond to the findings of the report. It may be positive that she spoke at the publication event, we’ll have to wait & see, but given that one of her first acts in her new role was to push through the licensing for the eradication of up to 14,213 badgers this year (even when government research indicates the resulting trophic cascade will negatively affect a wide range of other species such as polecats, marsh fritillaries, brown hares & curlews) it’s not looking likely. Meanwhile, DEFRA’s press statement unveils their staggering belief that the natural world is fine & dandy, whilst The NFU predictably pointed the finger at an increase in some predator species (I wonder which predators they mean…) rather than agricultural practices. Their comments are recorded in The Guardian by Damian Carrington on the 14th, see here.
‘I’m devastated by what I’ve read in the State of Nature report which was published today. We need stronger protections for our environment, greener farming techniques and a guarantee that our habitats aren’t up for negotiation in this post-referendum period.’ – Caroline Lucas, 14/09/2016
The good news is that people from all backgrounds want to retain & enhance the legal protections afforded to the natural world; Friends of the Earth commissioned some interesting polling from YouGov which proved this point, and Leicester Animal Rights covered the poll on their blog.
Here’s a few simple things we can do; why not pick one at random & do it?
– Make sure all of the Leicester City councillors, the City Mayor & our three MP’s have read this report (and send us any written responses you receive!).
– Join Leicester Friends of the Earth here.
– Join Leicester Animal Rights here.
– Join Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust here.
– Sign the petition to ban driven grouse shooting (expires 20th September 2016 so hurry!) here.
– Sign the petition to stop the badger cull here.
– Sign the petition to reinstate the Department for Energy & Climate Change here.
– Sign the petition to strengthen The Hunting Act 2004 here.
– Sign the petition asking Rutland County Council not to host The Cottesmore Hunt again here.
– Join the rally against the ‘cubbing’ season, currently in full swing, outside Parliament on September 30th. See here for details.
Hedgehogs are one of the species likely to become extinct in the UK; see a previous greenleicester post on how to help them here.