Somerset Wildlife Trust

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  • Groundbreaking study, launched by Sir David Attenborough, finds wildlife in decline

  • Six out of ten UK species threatened

  • Conservation organisations join forces to call on people to take action




David Attenborough

OUR nature is in trouble ­ that is the conclusion of a groundbreaking report launched today (May 22) by a coalition of leading conservation and research organisations.

Scientists working side-by-side from wildlife organisations across the UK, including Somerset Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Buglife and Butterfly Conservation, have compiled a stock-take of our native species ­ the first of its kind in the UK.

The report reveals that 60% of the species studied have declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing.

Farmland, woodland , lowland grassland and heathland, upland, fresh water and wetland, coastal, and marine species are under threat in Somerset.

The report also identifies areas of hope, with habitat restoration and species recovery such as otter on the Somerset Levels and the large blue butterfly on the Polden Hills.

The State of Nature report will be launched by Sir David Attenborough and UK conservation charities at the Natural History Museum in London this evening (May 22).

A call for people to support conservation charities and take action for wildlife

This report serves as a reminder to us all that nature needs our help and we can all do our bit to save it. Its authors are calling on people to support conservation charities and take action for wildlife.

Sir David Attenborough, who wrote the foreword to the publication, said: “This groundbreaking report is a stark warning ­ but it is also a sign of hope. For 60 years I have travelled the world exploring the wonders of nature and sharing that wonder with the public. But as a boy my first inspiration came from discovering the UK’s own wildlife.

“Our islands have a rich diversity of habitats which support some truly amazing plants and animals. We should all be proud of the beauty we find on our own doorstep; from bluebells carpeting woodland floors and delicately patterned fritillary butterflies, to the graceful basking shark and the majestic golden eagle soaring over the Scottish mountains.

“This report shows that our species are in trouble, with many declining at a worrying rate. However, we have in this country a network of passionate conservation groups supported by millions of people who love wildlife. The experts have come together to highlight the amazing nature we have around us and to ensure that it remains here for generations to come.”

Simon Nash, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive  said: “None of this work would have been possible without the army of volunteer wildlife enthusiasts who spend their spare time surveying species and recording their findings. Our knowledge of nature in the UK would be significantly poorer without these unsung heroes, and that knowledge is the most essential tool that conservationists have.

"It is time for us to take action to save nature and we are calling on people to give their support. We can all do something for nature, whether it is volunteering on a nature reserve, surveying species, making wildlife-friendly gardens, supporting campaigns or by becoming a member of a conservation charity." 

Click here to download our infographic of some of the effected species here in the south west.

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Find out more about the report



Oystercatcher_Ben Simmonds




State of Nature fact file:

  • The total number of larger moths had fallen by 28% since the late 1960s and two-thirds of the 337 species monitored had declined, and 37% by more than half;
  • 72% of butterfly species had decreased over the previous 10 years, including common garden butterflies that had declined by 24%;
  • The UK has lost 44 million breeding birds since the late 1960s;
  • In 16 counties, one plant species went extinct every other year;
  • Britain's mammals have seen losses and gains, with decline of hedgehogs, the ongoing loss of red squirrels, and the recovery of otters;
  • In 2010, Norman Maclean's book Silent Summer summarised dramatic declines in the UK's insect populations, and concluded that 'our wildlife is clearly in for a bumpy ride'.