Tag: invertebrate loss

Metaldehyde to be banned to protect wildlife

In a rather rare bit of good news for wildlife, the government has announced its intention to ban the use of metaldehyde outdoors. Metaldehyde is the active ingredient in slug pellets, and is commonly used as a pesticide against slugs, snails, and other gastropods. As well as wiping out slugs and snails, metaldehyde is also toxic to terrestrial mammals and birds, and acute poisoning is common in pets, birds, domestic, and wild animals including hedgehogs. Hedgehog numbers in the UK have fallen by about 50% since the turn of the century, and while research suggests that the amount of metaldehyde a hedgehog would need to consume to be lethal would be very large, there have been cases of dead hedgehogs with very high levels of metaldehyde in their system (presumably consumed via prey items).

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UK Butterflies in decline

A worrying picture of declines in many UK butterfly species seems to have emerged after record numbers of people took part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count, a nation-wide ‘citizen-science’ survey aimed at helping “assess the health of our environment simply by counting the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) we see”. The ‘count’ took place in July and August, with nearly 150,000 observers making 15-minute counts of butterflies in parks, gardens, woods and nature reserves across the country. Despite the high number of observers the survey reported the lowest average number of butterflies per count – 10.66 – since recording began in 2010.

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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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NE North America | About 94% of wild bee and native plant species networks lost

A recent report from Toronto’s York University titled “Wild bee declines linked to plant-pollinator network changes and plant species introductions” was published in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity last month. This report was perfectly summarised by EurekaAlert! under the heading “About 94 per cent of wild bee and native plant species networks lost, York study finds”. Their opening sentence is seriously concerning, given all that we now understand about the importance of pollinators and insects in general.

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Buglife | B Lines

Insect decline is inextricably linked with pesticides and habitat loss. The latter also leads to habitat fragmentation, pockets that are no longer linked and which have less species diversity. The charity Buglife has proposed setting up a nationwide system of insect ‘corridors’ they are calling ‘B Lines’. As they put it “We need to restore our countryside. We need to increase the number of wildflower-rich places, and we need to make sure that these areas are large enough to provide everything that pollinators need to thrive. We also need to join the dots. And that is where B-Lines comes in.”

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