Friday, 11 December 2015

State of Britain's wildlife 'increasingly fragile'

By Helen BriggsBBC News

8 December 2015 

Britain's wildlife is in an increasingly fragile state, with animals carrying out vital jobs for farmers being lost more rapidly than others, say scientists.

Species that pollinate crops or fight pests are at risk of disappearing, putting food production in jeopardy, according to the team.

The research brings together millions of wildlife records spanning 40 years.

It suggests conservation efforts should focus on certain areas, they add.

Dr Tom Oliver of the University of Reading, who led the research, said it was the biggest and most comprehensive report ever assembled for any country in the world.

"By standardising records from an army of amateur biologists across the country, we have amassed an impressive array of data, giving us our most complete picture yet of the state of Britain's wildlife," he told BBC News.

"The picture that emerges is of an increasingly fragile system, particularly in species that do vital jobs for humans.

"Unless efforts are made to reverse some of these declines, we face a future where we will be less confident that we can effectively grow our food."
Benefits from nature

The researchers looked at records of the changing fortunes of more than 4,000 types of plant and animal living in England, Wales and Scotland between 1970 and 2009.

Species such as bees, dragonflies, grasshoppers, ladybirds, plants and mosses were put into groups based on the role they play in nature.

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