Tag: biodiversity loss

Big Garden Birdwatch – we’re losing our ‘common’ birds too

Lockdown, we’re told. has helped us appreciate our gardens. Stuck in our homes we have turned to staring longingly out of the window, grateful for glimpses of colour as birds like Greenfinches and Great Tits flit over our fences in a kaleidoscope of feathers…Will that last? It would be wonderful if the UK’s collective focus on the birds that do their best to survive alongside us had become permanent, because it’s not just farmland, upland, woodland and wetland birds that are in trouble – according to the results from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch (BGBW), the more or less official national garden bird survey, so are our garden birds. But that is something that we can all help to turn around…

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BTO | Bird Trends 2020

The latest BirdTrends report from the BTO provides an early indication of one of the periodic revisions of the UK’s Red List (species with the highest conservation priority and needing urgent action) due to be published at the end of this year. Essentially, the report is a one-stop-shop for information about the population status of familiar breeding birds across the UK – a region already identified by a previous report as one of the most nature-depleted in the world. And it is very, very bad news indeed. Many of the highlighted species would once have not only been familiar to pre-war generations, they would have been everyday companions. Prior to the industrialisation of agriculture, their pastures would have been flower-rich meadows with massive insect communities providing seeds and protein for countless Cuckoos, Corn Buntings, Lapwings and Grey Partridges. Our woodlands, now often neglected with (in the absence of apex predators) unsustainable numbers of Roe Deer, were once composed mainly of native tree species and edged by scrub. They would have been bursting with Nightingales, Willow Tits and Spotted Flycatchers. Many of us now go all year without even seeing a single individual of any of them.

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The War on Wildlife | It’s time to talk food

‘Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss’ “explores the role of the global food system as the principal driver of accelerating biodiversity loss” and the authors explicitly state that “food production is degrading or destroying natural habitats and contributing to species extinction”. They go on to explain how what they term the ‘cheaper food paradigm’ has driven the expansion of agricultural land and intensive farming. Failure to account for the environmental cost of food production has led to habitat destruction and pollution, driving wildlife loss”. Essentially, our global food system is a vicious circle of cheap food, where low costs drive a bigger demand for food and more waste. More competition then drives costs even lower through more clearing of natural land and use of polluting fertilisers and pesticides. Agriculture is now the main threat to 86% of the 28,000 species known to be at risk of extinction.

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Who eats all the soya?

One of the biggest drivers of biodiversity loss is habitat loss to agriculture – in other words, enormous changes to natural habitats to grow our food. It’s estimated that as recently as 1000 years ago, less than 4% of the world’s ice-free and non-barren land area was used for farming. Now we have taken nearly HALF of all habitable land on the planet for our agriculture. The vast Cerrado region of Brazil, for example, once covered an area half the size of Europe, but around half the native savannah and forest of the Cerrado has been converted to agriculture since the late 1950s. Converted mainly for beef cattle ranching and to grow soybeans. Since the 1950s global soybean production has increased 15 times over. But who – or what – is eating all those beans…?

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Petition | Protect the UK’s dwindling hedgehog population.

The population of the UK’s Hedgehogs has fallen by as much as 50% in the last twenty years, and in July this year, a study conducted by the Mammal Society concluded that one of the very few animals that almost anyone in the UK can recognise has declined by so much that it should now be considered Vulnerable to Extinction. Loss of habitat, collisions with vehicles, and roads and fences acting as barriers to the movement of hedgehogs, (which isolate populations and make them more vulnerable to local extirpation), are thought to be the principle factors impacting the species. An epetition has been launched

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UK govt fails to hit biodiversity targets

In news that will come as no surprise to anyone paying attention, the UK has failed to meet nearly all of the biodiversity targets set at the 2010 Convention on Biological Biodiversity held in Nagoya, Japan (COP 9, which opened that year by saying that, “In April 2002, the Parties to the Convention committed themselves to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth” – a target which was also missed). According to an analysis by the RSPB the UK has failed to reach 17 out of 20 UN biodiversity targets agreed on at COP 9 in 2010, saying that the gap between rhetoric and reality has resulted in a “lost decade for nature” (a refrain repeated in the BBC’s ‘Extinction: The Facts’ programme which aired last night).

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The World at War (with nature)

WWF have just released their LIVING PLANET REPORT 2020 and it’s not good news for – well, for anyone. It’s not good news nor is it easy reading. Over well over 100 pages of text and illustration (plus pages of index and references), WWF explains – essentially – that we are taking more for ourselves and allowing less for everything else.  There are attempts to cheer us up with new initiatives with catchy names like ‘Bending the Curve of Biodiversity Loss’, but the facts are that the global Living Planet Index continues to decline, which means humans are continuing to ravage the planet and unpick the ecosystems all life relies upon.

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Guest post | The march of progress?

Over the last few years I have started to feel that the driving force is of ‘progress at any cost’, and that there have been minimal checks and allowances made for wildlife on some long-term development projects. For instance we have ‘suffered’ a major road expansion. Many people will have spent far too long on the A14, the major east-west route through the county, either before it was improved, or during the recent three years of its improvement. Right from the start many of us were horrified when trees containing rookeries were felled…Guest post by Louise Bacon

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