Leading wildlife organisations including Wiltshire Wildlife Trust have published their State of Nature 2023 report.
It shows that nature is continuing to decline at an alarming rate across the UK, which the organisations say is already one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.
According to the report, one in six species is now at risk of being lost to the nation, wildlife studied has on average declined by 19 percent since monitoring began in 1970 and most important habitats are in poor condition, even though restoration projects have clear benefits for nature, people and adapting to climate change.
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust CEO Joanna Lewis said: “Wiltshire is famous for its sweeping chalk grasslands and globally rare chalk streams. Our precious chalk streams are a lifeline for threatened wildlife like water voles, which have suffered a 47 percent decline in abundance in England between 1998 and 2016.
“Wiltshire’s wild places and wildlife are under threat from pollution, habitat loss and our changing climate. However, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is working with nature-friendly farmers, like the Wylye Valley Farmers, to save our chalk streams and rescue iconic Wiltshire species like corn buntings and stone curlew.
"Together, we have the opportunity to achieve a Wilder Wiltshire, clean up our rivers and bring abundant nature back into our farmed landscape.
“However, unlocking the huge opportunities for nature-friendly farming and finance relies on strong and sustained Government leadership. There is no time to play politics with nature and the climate in a way that takes everyone backwards.
"Nature recovery is crucial for our health and wellbeing, as well as the resilience of our farming system and the stability of our climate, and it’s up to our elected representatives to ensure that is reflected in policies ahead of the next election.”
Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre (WSBRC), which is hosted by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, recently identified 133 species as ‘critically important’ in Wiltshire through their Critical Species Project.
The project is a pilot funded by Natural England through the Species Recovery Programme. The species involved ranged from still common but much declined species such as hedgehogs and toads to much scarcer species such as curlew and the Duke of Burgundy butterfly.
In view of the nature crisis, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and fellow trusts across the country have identified five priorities for politicians ahead of the next General Election:
- Bring back the UK’s lost wildlife - the next Government must work across departments to put nature into recovery by protecting and restoring at least 30 percent of land and sea for nature by 2030. Beavers should be in every county, a nature recovery network should join up wild places, and damaging fishing practices – such as bottom trawling – must be banned.
- End river pollution and water scarcity - the next UK Government must sufficiently fund enforcement agencies to do their job.
- Fund wildlife-friendly farming - the destruction of nature and impacts of climate change are the biggest threats to food security in the UK.
- Enable healthy communities - more than a third of the population – nearly 9.5 million households in England – are unable to access green places near their home, so the next UK Government must support the creation of more green spaces in neighbourhoods, fund and integrate green prescribing into community-based health services and enable all children to access outdoor learning opportunities.
- Tackle the climate emergency by protecting and restoring natural habitats - nature can make a huge contribution to achieving net-zero targets if habitats are restored because peatlands, woodlands, and other wild places store carbon.
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