The Grapevine

Top 5 Threats To UK Wildlife

The threat of never-ending human activity and climate change has affected the population of various animal species throughout the world, and recent reports are showing that it will only get worse from here. In fact, according to the State of Nature 2019 report, the number of breeding birds that live in the U.K. has fallen by more or less 44 million since the year 1970s.

“There has been no let-up in the net loss of nature,” wrote the authors of the study.

Of course, the report also highlighted some positives, such as an increase in abundance in terrestrial and freshwater species. Nevertheless, the state of wildlife in the U.K. is greatly threatened, and here are five of the biggest perpetrators:

  1. Pollution – Perhaps one of the biggest threats to wildlife not just in the U.K. but also in the entire world is pollution, in all of its many forms. This includes chemicals found in water, plastic waste, light, soil, air and even noise pollution, all of which can contribute as threats to animals. Human-driven activities such as farming, industries and transport are also big factors.
  2. Climate change – Currently the biggest problem the Earth faces today, the effects of climate change are felt globally, especially by animals. Since the early 1980s, temperatures in the U.K. have increased by 1 degree Celsius, which already affects a wide range of species, not just in their habitat, but also in their predetermined actions. Thankfully, there are still steps being taken to mitigate this, with various protected areas blooming more than ever.
  3. Urbanization – Before there was climate change, there was urbanization, which throughout time, has destroyed the landscape and wrecked valuable wildlife habitats in favor of industrial buildings.
  4. Introduction of non-native species – Through the years, around 2,000 non-native species have made their way to the U.K., and they bring with them numerous threats. For example, some have started to outcompete native species, while others spread disease that native ones aren’t immune to. Some even, have started to eat the food for native species, causing an imbalance in the natural ecosystem. Such examples include the American mink, American grey squirrel and the domestic cat.
  5. Shift in agricultural practices – If you were to look at U.K. these past 50 years, you’d see how much of its land is being utilized to produce food for the subsistence and profit of humans. While this is productive for people, this is destructive for wildlife since the introduction of fertilizers and pesticide do nothing but upset the natural balance of U.K.’s biodiversity.

squirrel A new study in squirrels found that higher stress levels caused gut microbiomes to be unhealthier. Pixabay, public domain