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Britain's most endangered wildlife under further threat, survey finds
SOME of Britain's most endangered wildlife has fallen under further threat through shrinking populations during the last 40 years, new figures have shown.
An audit of more than 200 native species - including birds, bats, moths, butterflies, hares and dormice - shows that priority species have declined on average by 58 per cent since 1970.
The list of species features many of those deemed a priority because of the threats they face, and were chosen to represent wildlife in all four countries of the UK.
Some have benefited from conservation efforts in recent years, such as red kites and greater horseshoe bats, but others, including the high brown fritillary butterfly and the skylark, have declined.
The figures, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in conjunction with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, have been welcomed by wildlife campaigners who say the report underlines the need to preserve species under threat.
Richard Gregory, RSPB head of species monitoring, said: "This new indicator is like the FTSE Index for threatened species - and it is showing a steady and very worrying decline.
"What this new official biodiversity statistic does is act as an indicator of the health of our countryside.
"Every year the Government will be publishing these figures in the same way that they publish school league tables and crime statistics. We hope they will be a powerful new tool in the fight to halt the loss of our threatened native wildlife.
"These species were chosen mainly because they are under threat. Some of them are safer now than they were 40 years ago because of the hard work of conservationists, volunteers and government agencies - and we must celebrate some fantastic success stories - but the trend is downwards for most of the species on this list.
"There is a great deal of wildlife not included in this list including endangered species like the freshwater pearl mussel. We will be working with the Government to ensure data for these species are included in future to build a full picture of the state of our wildlife."
The figures show 70 per cent of priority species have suffered long-term decline since 1970, while 59 per cent have suffered short-term decline. This equates to 146 and 123 species, respectively.
A Defra spokesman said: "More is being done to protect our wildlife than ever before and the latest indicators show that we are making improvements.
"We've invested £7.5m to create Nature Improvement Areas, more farmland is now managed for wildlife and more of our seas are protected."
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