Wednesday 22 May 2013
Some wildlife species are thriving in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, despite the huge national declines in wildlife which have been revealed in the State of Nature report launched today.
According to the report, which was compiled by 25 leading UK wildlife organisations, 3 out of 5 plant and animal species in the UK have declined over the last 60 years. Bees, butterflies and farmland birds are among those showing the biggest decreases.
In the Chilterns, like the rest of the country, wildlife is under pressure from a number of threats like loss of valuable habitats and the effects of climate change. Our valuable downland, which provides a home for flowers and butterflies, needs to be regularly grazed to stay in good condition. Chalk streams like the Misbourne and the Wye are in poor condition, and our trees are at risk from a growing number of pests and diseases. If the HS2 high speed rail line goes ahead it will destroy huge amounts of wildlife and decimate irreplaceable habitat such as ancient woodland.
But there are some good news stories too. Numbers of endangered water voles have been increasing on the River Chess near Chesham for a few years, thanks to landowners and conservation organisations working together to protect them.
Native box woodland near Wendover, one of only 3 such woods in country
Populations of typical farmland birds like skylarks, lapwings and yellowhammers have declined greatly across the UK but appear to be holding up in the Chilterns. This could be because many farmers in this area are involved in schemes to encourage wildlife on their land.
The Chilterns Commons Project is supporting lots of local people to improve commons for wildlife, including pond restoration at Nettlebed Common, and botanical and butterfly surveys at Totternhoe Knolls near Dunstable.
The hard work and perseverance of many farmers, landowners and local groups in the Chilterns is helping a lot of our wildlife to thrive. This needs to be backed up by action at a national level to put nature higher up the agenda.
Download the full State of Nature report at http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/science/stateofnature/index.aspx