Biodiversity Loss
Every day species' extinctions are continuing at up to 1,000 times or more the natural rate.  For example, of the 289 species for which an assessment was made in the 2008 UKBAP reporting round, 88 were still declining and eight had been lost from the UK since the Plan was published in 1994.  Those that were stable may have populations well below target levels.  Not only are these extinctions irreversible, but they also pose a serious threat to our health and wellbeing.
 

What are the main threats to biodiversity in the UK?
 
 A recent review to assess the issues posing a threat to our ecosystems, habitats and species has revealed the following key pressures and risks to be:

* Habitat change
* Pollution
* Climate change
* Invasive non-native species

Find out more about these key pressures on our natural environment see What are the Threats to Biodiversity?

Findings from a 2011 report, commissioned by the Gloucestershire Environmental Partnership have revealed significant loss of priority habitats in Gloucestershire over the past 35 years.  This snapshot survey, comparing figures from 1973 and 2009, for sample 25 sq km areas in the Severn Vale revealed there have been major changes in land use. 


The table below summarises the finding:
    

Habitat/Land Use % change Reasons for change
Unimproved grassland   - 69 - Agricultural improvement
- Scrub encroachment through neglect

- Tree planting
Woodland/scrub + 133 - Neglect of marginal land, notably railway/motorway verges
- New planting
Arable + 285 - Ploughing of improved and unimproved grassland and parkland
Orchards   - 69 - Neglect and scrub/woodland encroachment
- Built development
Parkland   - 75 - Agricultural improvement
- Built development
Urban + 182 - Urban spread


What about climate change?

Biodiversity is strongly affected by climate change so we need to make additional efforts to minimise the negative influence of other factors, such as over-exploitation, habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, and the spread of invasive non native species. This way we can ensure that ecosystems are less vulnerable and more resilient to the increasing threat posed by climate change.

But climate change can also largely benefit from conserved biodiversity and particularly healthy ecosystems when these are placed at the very centre of the efforts to tackle climate change.

Through absorbing and storing carbon in a range of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, such as woodlands, peatlands and other wetlands, biodiversity contributes to climate change mitigation - by storing carbon dioxide.

Biodiversity also helps people to adapt to climate change through providing the ecosystem services which reduce their vulnerability and enhance their adaptive capacity to change. This includes the coastal protection provided by saltmarshes from flooding and coastal erosion caused by sea-level rise and more powerful storms.
 

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Cam Long Down in Gloucestershire
Cam Long Down, Gloucestershire
 

 

Wild daffodil
Wild daffodil

 

 

Woodland in autumn
Woodland in autumn

 

 
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