State of Nature Report

A wide range of conservation bodies have come together in an ambitious attempt to provide an overview of nature in Britain.


It’s a laudable effort, full of fascinating data. You can read the full report – which is beautifully illustrated – here:


Sadly,the report finds that, over the past 50 years, there’s a general decline of around 60% of most species, in most habitats. I guess that’s likely to be due to competition from humanity – the British population just keeps increasing, and we manage every inch of land either for living, working, growing food, or recreation.


There are, however, a few good news stories. A few species are benefiting from climate change. Some are on the increase, following conservation efforts – an example is the otter.

Furthermore, I was heartened to see that, as well as the traditional countryside habitats, the report considered urban and brownfield habitats. In these places, wildlife is able to thrive alongside us. The report adds that this benefits the people too: 80% of people live in urban areas, it’s valuable for them to have access to nature in their daily lives. Many studies demonstrate that human health is improved when people have regular access to green and natural areas.


A rare upland brownfield site, colonised by wildlife at RAF Fylingdales, North Yorks

A rare upland brownfield site, colonised by wildlife at RAF Fylingdales, North Yorks

Brownfield sites, neglected by humanity, quickly become refuges for wildlife, and the report says that brownfield sites are becoming increasingly important. However, wildlife populations in them can become isolated. Isolated populations are more vulnerable to extinction, so it would be great if wildlife sites could be linked by ‘wildlife corridors’.


Sadly, even brownfield sites with wide biodiversity are vulnerable to development, as they rarely have protection for the wildlife living there.


So it’s nice to know that that in Yorkshire’s industrial heartlands on the River Tees and the River Humber, businesses and conservation bodies have been working together for years to protect and enhance wildlife that thrives alongside the oil terminals, chemical works, nuclear power station, docks and other heavy industries there


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About Helen Johnson

Freelance writer specialising in Yorkshire's history and heritage.

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