Page last updated at 10:16 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 11:16 UK

UK biodiversity still in decline

Bordered gothic moth
The bordered gothic moth has already disappeared from the UK

Biodiversity in the UK is continuing to decline according to statistics released by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Defra is studying these trends as part a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), aiming to "significantly reduce the rate of species loss by 2010".

But conservationists are "very concerned" the target will not be met.

The government said it had made some progress and continued to provide resources to tackle the problem.

The latest update shows that many species are still disappearing from the UK.

Eighteen indicators by which to assess UK biodiversity were agreed in 2007 by Defra and its partners.

The measurements are represented as traffic lights - an indicator is green if it is improving and red if it is getting worse.

Defra along with conservation groups are taking the measurements which include the population of rare plants and animals, the status of habitats and ecosystems, and the impacts of pollution.

Responding to this latest assessment, Buglife, a conservation trust that works with Defra, pointed out that the abundance of farmland birds and seabirds had changed from orange to red, and that the area of sensitive habitats threatened by acid rain had moved from green to orange.

Orange upperwing moth

I just hope that 2010 will be the incentive for the government to provide the necessary resources to get some real conservation work done

Martin Warren
Butterfly Conservation

The trust highlighted the consequences of the decline, pointing out that six species on the BAP list had been lost from the UK since 1994."We urgently need a boost of resources in a new Green Deal before we cause irreversible damage to Britain's fragile habitats," said Matt Shardlow, director of Buglife.

Defra agreed that more action was needed to stop biodiversity loss.

Wildlife Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: "The Government is continuing to work with the public, wildlife conservation groups, and farmers to conserve our valuable wildlife."

But Martin Warren, chief executive of Butterfly Conservation, told BBC news that there was "no chance" that the 2010 target would be met.

"There has been lots of effort by government and NGOs, but there simply aren't the resources to tackle the problem," he said. "I just hope that 2010 will be the incentive for the government to provide the necessary resources to get some real conservation work done, and reverse these trends."



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