Farmland Wildlife in Decline, but Union Says Intensification Not to Blame

UK - Over one in ten species assessed are under threat of disappearing altogether in the UK, according to a new 'State of Nature' report published by a number of organisations, including the RSPB, the National Trust and the World Wildlife Fund.
calendar icon 14 September 2016
clock icon 2 minute read

The report documents the status and population trends of hundreds of animals and plants in the UK and its Overseas Territories.

Sir David Attenborough, who wrote a foreword to the report, said: “The natural world is in serious trouble and it needs our help as never before."

The report singles out farmland as an important habitat for wildlife, as it makes up 75 per cent of the UK’s landscape. But despite recent efforts to improve the environmental credentials of farming, the report said 60 per cent of the 1,064 farmland species studied have decreased and 34 per cent have decreased strongly.

The report suggests intensification of farming to improve productivity, particularly in the post-war years, may be to blame for this decline, but the National Farmers' Union suggested that this picture of farming is out of date.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “Since the early 1990s, in terms of inputs and in terms of numbers of livestock and area of crops grown British agriculture has not intensified - in fact it's the reverse.

“Therefore it makes little sense to attribute cause and effect to 'the intensification of agriculture' in the UK in the last quarter of a century when there hasn't been any.

“Other causes acknowledged in the report, such as urbanisation, climate change or increasing predator pressure need greater attention."

Mr Smith highlighted that farmers are well placed to help improve the state of nature, whilst reinforcing that food production needs to be protected to prevent the UK becoming over-reliant on imports.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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