Scottish wildlife crisis: 1 in 11 species face extinction

Butterflies and moths have experienced significant declines. Picture: ImageFlow
Butterflies and moths have experienced significant declines. Picture: ImageFlow
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One in 11 species of plants and animals in Scotland is in danger of extinction, according to a new report by the leading wildlife experts.

The threat is even greater for some groups of species, with 18 per cent of butterflies, 15 per cent of dragonflies and 13 per cent of plants officially classified as at risk of extinction.

The latest State of Nature report shows more than half of all UK species have suffered declines in recent years and 13 per cent are at risk of vanishing from our shores entirely.

Two per cent have already disappeared.

The study, which pools knowledge from 53 wildlife groups, has revealed that 56 per cent of nearly 4,000 land and freshwater species studied between 1970 and 2013 have suffered falling numbers or disappearances from areas they traditionally inhabit. And the rate of losses shows no signs of slowing down, with more than half of species experiencing population drops in the past decade.

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Experts who compiled the report are blaming modern farming as the single biggest factor threatening wildlife.

Climate change is also having a significant impact.

Conservationists are calling for urgent action to reverse the trend and preserve the country’s important wildlife.

Dr Maggie Keegan, head of policy and planning at the Scottish Wildlife Trust and a co-author of the report, said: “It is vital that people and organisations work together now to restore native habitats for future generations.

“Nature is important in its own right but it also provides a huge range of essential services, ranging from the clean air that we breathe to the pollination of our crops.”

A recent estimate has suggested nature and “ecosystem services” are worth up to £23 billion a year to Scotland’s economy, but Dr Keegan insists the true value of nature is “immeasurable”.

She says work must be done to improve agricultural practices and guard against global warming to help safeguard wild species.

Scottish environment minister Roseanna Cunningham insisted the Scottish Government remains “committed” to protecting nature.

She added: “We have so much to be proud of in Scotland and so much to protect and enhance.

“That means we all have much work to do and I look forward to working with our partners to improve the state of nature in Scotland.”