This Is The State Of Nature in The UK in 2019

Share article on...





This Is The State Of Nature in The UK in 2019


The facts and figures are in.

The State of Nature report 2019 is the biggest survey of Britian's wildlife, plants and marine life for several years.

For the first time government agencies have worked with volunteers and charities to uncover the species at stake, the habitats that are being harmed and what pollution and the Climate Emergency is doing to Britain.

Georgina Wilson-Powell

Thu 10 Oct 2019

70 partners and thousands of volunteers took part to track, log and count plants, fish and wildlife across the UK for this ground-breaking State of Nature report. From heathland and ancient woodlands to Scottish bogs, Cornish cliffs, saltmarshes and offshore islands, this is the largest attempt to draw a line in the sand over where our natural species are in 2019 to track the impact we've had on the United Kingdom in the last 50 years.

Daniel Hayhow, lead author on the report, said: “We know more about the UK’s wildlife than any other country on the planet, and what it is telling us should make us sit up and listen. We need to respond more urgently across the board if we are to put nature back where it belongs. Governments, conservation groups and individuals must continue to work together to help restore our land and sea for wildlife and people in a way that is both ambitious and inspiring for future generations”

“In this report we have drawn on the best available data on the UK’s biodiversity, produced by partnerships between conservation NGOs, research institutes, UK and national governments, and thousands of dedicated volunteers. It’s through working together that we can help nature recover but the battle must intensify.”


Over 70 charities and organisations contributed to this year's State of Nature report

While the Climate Emergency is a global issue, and we get dramatic reports of sea ice melting and mountains shrinking, our own weather patterns are changing in the UK, hotter summers, fast and sudden rainstorms and an average temperature rise of one degree over the last century.

So what is the State of Nature in the UK in 2019?

  • Out of 7,165 British species surveyed, 13% are at risk of extinction in the UK, including Britain's wild cat and the greater mouse-eared bat.
  • Since 1970, 31% of species have decreased and 24% have increased in distribution, with 45% showing little change.
  • Across 5,942 plants, inveterbrates, terrestial and freshwater species, the average species distribution has fallen by 5% since 1970.
  • One quarter of those monitored were at high to medium risk of losing their habitats and only about 50% of those could repopulate in other areas.

While the report is much more indepth than easily repeated statistics, one thing it does make clear, is that nature, just like the UK, is becoming increasingly polarised - with rapid shifts to abundance or decline - 45% of species since 1970 have shown a strong change one way or another.

The report reiterates the UK government's own assesment that the UK will not meet its global 2020 targets agreed to through the Convention on Biological Diversity.

No real improvement has been noted since an earlier report in 2016.

What's causing the wildlife decline?

As well as the Climate Emergency, intensive agricultual practices, population expansion and growing invasive species are are all guilty of tipping the natural balance in the UK.

The climate effect can be seen at play, as the report details the number of species that are actually moving north as the south of the country intensifies in heat. Many species of birds' northern margins have shifted by up to 19km in the last two decades, but those in northern Scotland already have nowhere else to shift to.

The report also confirms what a lot of people have witnessed themselves, that species' seasonal patterns are moving out of sync, with flowers blooming earlier for example.

Aerial shot of town and fields

How can we better manage our urban expansion?

How to help nature in Britain

Much of the change in our natural eco-system comes down to too many carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Ultimately, carbon emissions are something we - individuals, businesses and government - can change. It might not seem like it but we do have it within our power as a society to move away from carbon.

The Guardian recently published a list of 20 companies that are responsible for a whopping 33% of carbon emissions. What can you do to boycott, petition, raise awareness or push for governmental action? 

Here's why your bank account has a big role to play in moving away from carbon 

Rosie Hails, Nature and Science Director at the National Trust, one of the charities involved said:  'We are now at a crossroads when we need to pull together with actions rather than words to stop and reverse the decline of those species at risk as well as protecting and creating new habitats in which they can thrive.

'We need a strong new set of environmental laws to hold our governments and others to account and to set long-term and ambitious targets. Only a robust approach to environmental protections and law making can deliver this for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.'

Individually, how can you reduce your carbon emissions?

Treedom help you calculate your daily carbon emissions and plant trees from your phone

These companies really do carbon offset

This alternative to Google plants trees every time you click or search

These are some of our favourite B Corps in Britain. They have made it a legal requirement for their business to look after the planet.

Volunteering to help Britain's natural world is up 46% since 2000, so whatever you're doing, keep doing it.

Cornish cliffs and sea stacks

The sea level rise will ruin saltmarshes and erode coastlines

Here are five ways to kickstart a revival in wildlife, plants and sea life

"Nature provides liberation from the hustle of modern society, allowing our attention to shift away from ourselves and focus on the glorious and the subline. For me it is not a supplement, it is a necessity," Bella Lack, young conservationist.

1. Why it's so important to plant trees and why now's the time to do it

2. What to plant for bees

3. Everything you need to know about the climate strikes and how to help

4. Growing veg: The best plants to grow over winter

5. This national park is creating a 'road system' for bees