UK wildlife survey results in Gardeners are praised for biodiversity
Britain’s wildlife is in serious decline, according to the biggest ever survey of historical data.
Using tens of millions of individual records dating back to the 1970s, scientists at Reading University discovered that, not only is the general diversity of wildlife being continually eroded, but also that some groups of organisms are under particular threat.
Using information obtained from amateur naturalists, an incredible 4,424 species in 22 groups, such as bees, dragonflies, grasshoppers, ladybirds, plants and mosses, were evaluated for the key roles they play in the environment. These included pollination, pest control, cultural value and decomposition.
While all groups declined, those supporting pollination and pest control (such as by eating aphids), were identified most at risk. Bees, butterflies and hoverflies were particularly badly hit, with
16 species or 27 per cent of the insect group being affected. Hearteningly, organisms involved in processes of decomposition and climate control were judged relatively stable, with only 7 to 10 per cent of species being affected.
“This is the most comprehensive report ever assembled for any country in the world,” said the University’s lead researcher Dr Tom Oliver. “The picture that emerges is of an increasingly fragile system, particularly in species that do vital jobs for humans. We face a future where we will be less confident that we can effectively grow our food.
Speaking exclusively to Garden News, Dr Oliver had praise for gardeners in the UK. “British gardeners already do a great job in helping to promote biodiversity. Gardens can provide food and habitat all-year-round and for many species of butterflies, for example, a well-managed garden is like running a buffet. Whether they realise it or not, gardeners are in the vanguard of this battle for wildlife. The nation owes them a great deal.”
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