UK will 'pause' publication of data showing biodiversity in decline

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Next twelvemonth volition spot an important gathering to hold planetary biodiversity targets, but the UK says it won't beryllium publishing cardinal information connected wildlife and habitats

Life 28 October 2021

By Adam Vaughan

Lulworth skipper butterfly

A antheral Lulworth skipper (Thymelicus acteon) successful Dorset, UK

Oliver Smart/Alamy

Conservationists person criticised the UK authorities for its determination to temporarily halt publishing caller information connected the authorities of the country’s wildlife and habitats successful 2022, the aforesaid twelvemonth arsenic a landmark UN biodiversity summit.

Figures published today by the Department for Food, Rural Affairs & Environment (Defra) amusement a deteriorating representation for habitats, arsenic good arsenic for precedence species, specified arsenic otters and reddish squirrels; woodland birds and butterflies that are reliant connected circumstantial habitats, specified arsenic the Lulworth skipper (Thymelicus acteon).

The UK, like galore different countries, has failed to apprehension declines successful biodiversity successful caller years contempt signing up to planetary targets to support nature. In April 2022, nations are expected to renew their committedness to enactment by agreeing caller biodiversity targets for 2030 astatine the COP15 acme successful Kunming, China.

However, Defra said that it volition “pause” publishing caller information connected the authorities of UK biodiversity successful 2022 to alteration a “thorough review” of the indicators, specified arsenic the pressures from invasive taxon oregon the wellness of vertebrate populations and different animals.

Mark Avery, a conservationist and erstwhile conservation manager of the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, says: “It seems similar Defra’s effect to a biodiversity situation is to halt publishing the information that amusement it’s happening. That’s not precise good, is it?”

Key indicators connected birds, butterflies, precedence taxon and habitats amusement that the representation is getting worse. For example, a measurement of farmland vertebrate populations derived from 2019 information is down 45 per cent from its 1970 value, with smaller decreases seen for different birds. Other measures, specified arsenic the clip that volunteers walk connected conservation activities, person risen, with a 61 per cent summation betwixt 2000 and 2019.

New Scientist has contacted Defra for a response.

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