State of nature

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Our natural environment is at the core of our identity and heritage, and globally renowned for its beautiful land and seascapes and their unique history. It boasts a wide range of flora and fauna, with diverse features and habitats – from towans to tors, marshland to moorland. We vitally depend upon the services it provides for our health, wellbeing and prosperity – and it is helping us to tackle climate change, and adapt by helping to reduce flood risks.

However, nature is highly fragile and not as healthy as it might seem. It has degraded over the last 50 years at a dramatic rate, and that is accelerating due to climate change.

You can explore the key evidence below.

STATE OF NATURE: Cornwall 2020

In 2019 the national State of Nature report gave the worrying news that since 1970, 41% of species have declined in abundance across the UK. This led to talk of an ‘ecological emergency’ and calls for it to be tackled alongside the climate crisis.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust wanted to know if the same was true here in Cornwall, so teamed up with Cornwall Council and the University of Exeter and analysed a huge volume of local species and habitat data collected largely by volunteer ‘citizen scientists’.

The report found that since the early 80s:
State of Nature: Cornwall 2020 summary infographic

  • nearly half of terrestrial mammals are found in fewer places
  • nearly half of our breeding birds have declined
  • three fifths of butterflies are found in fewer places

Whilst the report paints a generally gloomy picture, it does include some good news, detailing where concentrated conservation efforts have brought species back from the brink of local extinction.

To see the key findings and to register to receive the full report in Spring, please visit Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s State of Nature Cornwall 2020 web page.

You can also explore more data about Cornwall at:

UK State of Nature 2019

The UK State of Nature report presents an overview of how wildlife is faring, looking back over nearly 50 years of monitoring to see how nature has changed in the UK. In addition, it assesses the pressures that are acting on nature, UK State of Nature report 2019and the responses being made, collectively, to counter these pressures.

The latest 2019 report found that

  • 41% of species have declined in the UK (decreased in abundance) since 1970
  • 13% is the average decline in abundance for indicator species in the UK since 1970
  • 15% of species are threatened with extinction in the UK, of 8,431 assessed
  • 133 species have gone extinct in the UK since 1950

UK Biodiversity indicators 2020

UK Biodiversity Indicators 2020The 2020 UK biodiversity indicators report gives a comprehensive overview of Government action to halt biodiversity loss.

14 out of 24 biodiversity indicators are showing long-term declines. This includes the ongoing decline of UK habitats and species of European importance, alongside a decline in priority species.



5th GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY OUTLOOK

The Global Biodiversity Outlook is a UN report summarising the latest data on the status and trends of biodiversity globally as well as progress on the international Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Its fifth report in 2020 found that, globally, none of the 20 targets had been met.

The UK self-assessment found that nationally we had not met 14 out of the 20 targets. The Royal Society for Protection of Birds was more pessimistic, with its analysis concluding that the UK had only met 3 targets, and gone backwards on 6.

But the report optimistically notes that eight “transitions” can stem the decline, including promoting sustainable food systems to making cities greener.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species update

A 2020 update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species has found that a further 31 animal and plant species have gone extinct. It found that 35,765 species are threatened with extinction globally, including all of the world’s freshwater dolphin species.

Positively, it also found that European Bison and 25 other species are recovering due to conservation efforts.

BENDING THE CURVE OF BIODIVERSITY LOSS


It is possible to stabilize and reverse the loss of nature as early as 2030 with bolder conservation efforts and changes to global food systems, according to a major study from September 2020. The latest part of the WWF's Living Planet Report, it explored biodiversity targets to reverse global declines and shed light on paths forward to 'bend the curve'.

It found that joint action was needed for conservation and restoration alongside support for more sustainable food consumption and production - including increasing protected areas, restoring degraded land, and balancing production and conservation efforts on managed land. And it found that ambitious action on climate change was necessary to reverse the decline in wildlife.

The projected impact of climate change

According to recent research, if we limit global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C above the pre-industrial levels by the year 2100, the impacts of climate change would be much less dramatic on wildlife. For vertebrates and plants, species loss by 2100 will be halved if warming is limited to 1.5°C, compared with 2°C. For insects the number is reduced by two-thirds.


Our natural environment is at the core of our identity and heritage, and globally renowned for its beautiful land and seascapes and their unique history. It boasts a wide range of flora and fauna, with diverse features and habitats – from towans to tors, marshland to moorland. We vitally depend upon the services it provides for our health, wellbeing and prosperity – and it is helping us to tackle climate change, and adapt by helping to reduce flood risks.

However, nature is highly fragile and not as healthy as it might seem. It has degraded over the last 50 years at a dramatic rate, and that is accelerating due to climate change.

You can explore the key evidence below.

STATE OF NATURE: Cornwall 2020

In 2019 the national State of Nature report gave the worrying news that since 1970, 41% of species have declined in abundance across the UK. This led to talk of an ‘ecological emergency’ and calls for it to be tackled alongside the climate crisis.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust wanted to know if the same was true here in Cornwall, so teamed up with Cornwall Council and the University of Exeter and analysed a huge volume of local species and habitat data collected largely by volunteer ‘citizen scientists’.

The report found that since the early 80s:
State of Nature: Cornwall 2020 summary infographic

  • nearly half of terrestrial mammals are found in fewer places
  • nearly half of our breeding birds have declined
  • three fifths of butterflies are found in fewer places

Whilst the report paints a generally gloomy picture, it does include some good news, detailing where concentrated conservation efforts have brought species back from the brink of local extinction.

To see the key findings and to register to receive the full report in Spring, please visit Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s State of Nature Cornwall 2020 web page.

You can also explore more data about Cornwall at:

UK State of Nature 2019

The UK State of Nature report presents an overview of how wildlife is faring, looking back over nearly 50 years of monitoring to see how nature has changed in the UK. In addition, it assesses the pressures that are acting on nature, UK State of Nature report 2019and the responses being made, collectively, to counter these pressures.

The latest 2019 report found that

  • 41% of species have declined in the UK (decreased in abundance) since 1970
  • 13% is the average decline in abundance for indicator species in the UK since 1970
  • 15% of species are threatened with extinction in the UK, of 8,431 assessed
  • 133 species have gone extinct in the UK since 1950

UK Biodiversity indicators 2020

UK Biodiversity Indicators 2020The 2020 UK biodiversity indicators report gives a comprehensive overview of Government action to halt biodiversity loss.

14 out of 24 biodiversity indicators are showing long-term declines. This includes the ongoing decline of UK habitats and species of European importance, alongside a decline in priority species.



5th GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY OUTLOOK

The Global Biodiversity Outlook is a UN report summarising the latest data on the status and trends of biodiversity globally as well as progress on the international Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Its fifth report in 2020 found that, globally, none of the 20 targets had been met.

The UK self-assessment found that nationally we had not met 14 out of the 20 targets. The Royal Society for Protection of Birds was more pessimistic, with its analysis concluding that the UK had only met 3 targets, and gone backwards on 6.

But the report optimistically notes that eight “transitions” can stem the decline, including promoting sustainable food systems to making cities greener.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species update

A 2020 update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species has found that a further 31 animal and plant species have gone extinct. It found that 35,765 species are threatened with extinction globally, including all of the world’s freshwater dolphin species.

Positively, it also found that European Bison and 25 other species are recovering due to conservation efforts.

BENDING THE CURVE OF BIODIVERSITY LOSS


It is possible to stabilize and reverse the loss of nature as early as 2030 with bolder conservation efforts and changes to global food systems, according to a major study from September 2020. The latest part of the WWF's Living Planet Report, it explored biodiversity targets to reverse global declines and shed light on paths forward to 'bend the curve'.

It found that joint action was needed for conservation and restoration alongside support for more sustainable food consumption and production - including increasing protected areas, restoring degraded land, and balancing production and conservation efforts on managed land. And it found that ambitious action on climate change was necessary to reverse the decline in wildlife.

The projected impact of climate change

According to recent research, if we limit global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C above the pre-industrial levels by the year 2100, the impacts of climate change would be much less dramatic on wildlife. For vertebrates and plants, species loss by 2100 will be halved if warming is limited to 1.5°C, compared with 2°C. For insects the number is reduced by two-thirds.


Page last updated: 28 January 2021, 09:45