Dozens Of British Species Vanishing 'At An Alarming Rate' Despite Attempts To Save Them

Some of Britain’s most endangered wildlife – from red squirrels to native crayfish – are vanishing from the countryside at an alarming rate, a report warns.A census of the most at-risk species found that dozens of plants and creatures are in serious decline, despite Government-backed attempts to protect them.

Conservationists yesterday accused politicians of failing to tackle the crisis and called on the coalition Government to carry out the parties’ election pledges on protecting wildlife.The report, from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, revealed that 88 species are in decline, including skylarks, pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies and red squirrels.

The assessment – which looked at the fortunes of hundreds of threatened species and habitats listed on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan – found that 19 types of landscape were also suffering, including mudflats, maritime cliffs and saltmarshes.And it revealed that eight species have become extinct since the publication of the original plan in 1994, including the wryneck bird, two lichens, three moths and two beetles.However, the report also found some success in boosting wildlife, with eight habitats and 40 species said to be improving.

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust, said: ‘British wildlife is in crisis.Species that have lived here for thousands of years are declining and disappearing.’The UK and country authorities must now redouble their efforts if they are to have any hope of meetingthe new EU target of “halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020”.’Dr Mark Avery, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: ‘The report shows that when targeted conservation programmes are funded, species such as stone-curlew, corncrake and bittern can often quickly recover.’But we’ve made less progress with restoring and expanding vital wildlife habitats.’Many of the species have suffered from the loss of their habitats, intensive farming and pollution.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: ‘Many pressures on biodiversity remain high and some species such as farmland birds and sea birds have declined. We will continue to address this.’



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