The UK’s nature is in serious trouble with more than 40 per cent of species in decline and 10 per cent threatened with extinction, a new study has revealed.

Wildlife continues to decline according to the State of Nature 2019 report, out today – with Oxfordshire seeing 63 wildflowers going extinct since1968.

The latest findings show that since rigorous scientific monitoring began in the 1970s there has been a 13per cent decline in average abundance across wildlife studied and that the declines continue unabated.

Professionals from more than 70 wildlife organisations –including the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust – joined with government agencies for the first time to compile the report, which presents the clearest picture to date of the status of our species.

Butterflies and moths have been particularly hard hit with numbers of butterflies down by 17per cent and moths down by 25per cent. The numbers of species, such as the High brown fritillary and grayling, that require more specialised habitats have declined by more than three quarters.

Also suffering are nightingales, which have seen a collapse in breeding numbers and local extinction in some areas.

133 species assessed have already been lost from our shores since 1500. However, the report does reveal some hope, with 26 percent of species increasing since 1970.

And while adders, downy emerald dragonfly and Dartford warblers are declining dramatically, they have a continued presence on BBOWT nature reserves.

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Over the last 200 years, ninety different species of flowering plant have gone extinct in the county. Among species in decline is the county flower, the Snake’s-head fritillary, which BBOWT are working to conserve at their Iffley Meadows reserve.

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The group are also fighting to reverse the decline in water voles. Its Water Vole Recovery Project, the longest standing local project of its kind, has seen the water mammal’s population increase by 71 per cent.

Causes of decline include agricultural practice and the ongoing effects of climate change.

The Government-sanctioned badger cull, meanwhile, has driven the species to the brink of local extinction in some areas – wiping out communities which have existed uninterrupted for hundreds of years.

Public sector expenditure on biodiversity, as a proportion of GDP, has fallen by 42 per cent since a peak in 2008/09.

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Pollution is also a major issue. Whilst emissions of many pollutants have been reduced dramatically in recent decades, pollution continues to have a severe impact on the UK’s sensitive habitats and freshwaters, and new pollutant threats are continuing to emerge.

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”

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“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.”

BBOWT CEO Estelle Bailey urged optimism: “It’s still not too late to turn things around.

“The wildlife trust’s proposal for a Nature Recovery Network puts space for nature at the heart of our farming and planning systems, putting wildlife in the best position to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

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“A Nature Recovery Network would enable wildlife to move between habitats, giving nature the room it needs to sustain a healthy population in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

“Given the current political uncertainty and, in particular, the risks to our environment from a no-deal Brexit, we urgently need a clear commitment to an ambitious Environment Act and Agriculture Bill. These would provide the legislative foundation for the development of a Nature Recovery Network nationwide, helping turn nature’s recovery from an aspiration to a reality.”

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The report has a foreword by a collective of young conservationists who are passionate about conservation.

Dan Rouse, a young conservationist said: “Nature is something that shaped my childhood, that allowed me to be free to use my sense of wonder, and to gain an insight into the wonderful world of nature.

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“It is young people that are now picking up the baton to save our nature.

“We’ve already lost corn buntings and nightingales in Wales – how long until they’re gone from the rest of the UK? Along with the eerie calls of curlew and the gentle purr of the turtle doves.”

Sophie Pavelle, another young conservationist said: “What a huge wake-up call 2019 has been! I have felt the loss of nature more acutely this year than any other. A dawn chorus less deafening, hedgerows less frantic, bizarre, worrying weather…it seems that in a more complex world nature is tired, muted and confused.

“People protect what they love, and if we can find quirky, empowering ways to encourage young people to connect with nature emotionally and see it as something they can truly champion - only then can we dig deep to find real hope for a brighter, sustained future for our natural world.”

Read the State of Nature 2019 report at nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019