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Worrying report is a stark warning to the state of our wildlife

The nation's nature conservation organisations have published a worrying report on the overall health of our wildlife.

House sparrow.

Last week the nation’s nature conservation organisations published a worrying report (The State of Nature) on the overall health of our wildlife. Nearly two thirds of the 8,000 species studied are in decline, about 10% being in danger of extinction. Introducing the report Sir David Attenborough said: ‘ This groundbreaking report is a stark warning – but it is also a sign of hope. ’ The warning is that we must urgently address this issue; the hope is that our network of wildlife organisations, and their millions of supporters, can inspire everyone to take the necessary action.

This action is needed everywhere, in rural and remote areas, and in towns and cities. In Birmingham and the Black Country we are fortunate in having a great deal of information about the habitats and species sharing our urban spaces, as well as more than 30 years’ experience of helping to conserve them. The conurbation has many brownfield sites which, surprising as it may seem, can be richer in wildlife than some ancient woodlands. Although we know how to provide for some of the wildlife displaced through during development difficulties often arise.

Georgia Stokes, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country says: ‘ This report is an important call to action for local people. As we live in an urban area, our green spaces are particularly precious so we must act now to prevent further losses of species and habitats .’

The report shows, despite some successes, we are not doing enough. For example, house sparrow numbers have declined by two thirds since the 1970s. This follows a major decline in the first half of the 20 Century as motor vehicles replaced horses, and the spilt seed from the horses’ nosebags was no longer there to feed the sparrows and other birds. Overall it is estimated that 44 million breeding birds have been lost in this country in the last 50 years.

This is a problem we can solve. The conservation and scientific communities have the knowledge and experience needed. If otters and red kites can be brought back from the brink, so can many other species. What is needed are the people and money to do the job, political support, strong laws and regulations, and the willingness of others, such as developers and farmers, to treat nature sympathetically.

Twitter: @PeteWestbrom

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