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World News

Christians called to care for creation after one in six species in UK at risk of extinction

by Donna Birrell

Nearly one in six species in the UK is at risk of extinction, according to a new report, which says that a quarter of land mammals and half of birds face the prospect of vanishing.

It's looked at the state of nature in the UK and found that since 1970, there's been a 19 per cent decline in all species – with a staggering 43 per cent of birds found to be critically endangered.

There's also been a 64 per cent decline in the number of flowering plants.

The report has been put together by a broad coalition of the UK's leading wildlife experts and conservation charities working with government agencies to present a clear picture of the status of our wildlife across land and sea.

It warns that without urgent action, the UK is set to lose even more precious habitats and wildlife and miss climate and biodiversity targets, with devastating implications for nature and people.

Andy Lester, is head of conservation at Christian charity A Rocha UK, which was one of more than 60 organisations which worked on the report, told Premier Christian News.

"We're noticing two big changes - there's a very significant decline in numbers of nearly half our birds in the UK. But it's particularly staggering when it comes to farmland and garden birds, when it's nearly 60 per cent.

"Many familiar species which simply sang their heart out across the countryside are now not there. For example, skylark, yellow hammer, corn bunting, tree Sparrow, and another species like grey partridge. But some of the more familiar ones, such as green finches and bullfinches - many of the species that are familiar are in substantial and rapid decline.

"We are called to protect and look after God's creation. For me, that is the primary reason why we should care. But the second is, obviously, they provide an enormous function both in terms of pest control pollination and as food for other species. So if the food network breaks down, where we lose many species, so our ability to farm, to eat and to live also diminishes."

Lester says the decline is across the board, with over 50 per cent of flowering plants in some parts of the country declining, nearly 30 per cent of mammals dropping, and about 20 per cent of our insect population.

The biggest drivers of continued decline are said to be climate change and the way we farm.

Among the other findings are that only a fifth of farmland and just 25 per cent of woodlands in the UK are farmed in a nature-friendly way. Just 25 per cent of peatlands are considered to be in an ecologically good state.

Farmland birds are showing a rapid decline - down 58 per cent since 1970 and red squirrel numbers have declined by 37 per cent since 1993. Seabirds in Scotland are down by 49 per cent since 1970.

But despite the gloomy statistics, Lester says some positive conversations are happening: "We want to reconnect communities, farmers, landowners, businesses, and members of the public together in a passionate embrace of nature, caring for it, making sure it's sustainable, and also making sure it pays.

"The reality is whilst it's lovely to see beautiful countryside, it's also important to engage with the farming community, to diversify away from intensive systems and look at alternative ways doing things that are better for the community, better for the economy and better for nature."



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