For the first time Hedgehogs and sparrows have been included among the 1,149 vulnerable species of plants and animals listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The list also includes the pine marten, the wild cat, the mountain hare, long-snouted and short-snouted seahorses, blue and porbeagle sharks, sedges, helleborine and marsh orchids. Two threatened species of dandelion are also included
Grahame Madge, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said that wildlife was under particular threat because of pressure from intensive farming, housing development and manicured gardens. “Wildlife is ebbing away,” he said. “It’s up to everybody who owns land to make a difference. Animals and birds are struggling for food and are at considerable risk. The problem is that for so many years the UK landscape has been under such pressure. Look at our rivers and how our hedgerows are being pulled up and our gardens are now so manicured.”
The 1,149 species of plants and animals and 65 habitats listed for protection compare with 577 species and 49 habitats on the previous conservation list, which was drawn up ten years ago. Joan Ruddock, the Biodiversity Minister, said: But it is not all bad news: other species, previously considered under threat (eg the pipistrelle bat) have increased in numbers and have been removed from the protection list have increased in numbers, and 123 species have been removed.
Mark Avery, RSPB conservation director, said: “Over the past 12 years, the Biodiversity Action Plan has helped everyone to focus attention on priority species. To its credit, we have seen dramatic increases in key species, like bittern, stone curlew, corncrake, nightjar, cirl bunting and woodlark. “However, the fact that the bird list now includes more than a fifth of all of the UK’s regularly occurring birds is a cause of alarm, especially as the list now includes a number of woodland birds and summer visiting birds like the cuckoo. Before we can celebrate the widespread removal of species from the list, we will have to tackle some general environmental problems, including further reforms of agriculture, a faster rate of habitat creation and the need to tackle climate change. We will have to act fast.”