Yorkshire’s Pivotal role for UK Wildlife

by Handy Mag

First ever report reveals Yorkshire’s pivotal role for UK wildlife

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have published the first-ever ‘State of Yorkshire’s Nature’ report, which for the first time gives an accurate insight into how the whole of Yorkshire’s nature is faring—and, crucially where action is now needed to create healthier, resilient and more abundant landscapes.

Yorkshire is not immune to the UK-wide nature crisis, where 1 in 6 of our species are now assessed as being at risk. The report concludes that the declines here are similar to those that are happening across the UK, but for the first time identifies which species in Yorkshire are declining and which are increasing, where and—crucially—why.

The report shows that nearly 2,000 species have been lost from Yorkshire in the last 200 years, and another 3,000 species are at risk; curlew, for example, has been pushed to a few remaining pockets of safety in the uplands due to the loss of its lowland wetlands, easily-accessible food sources and a changing climate. Our much-beloved swifts, once a common species of the summer, have declined by 50% in Yorkshire since 1995 as a result of the rapid decline in insect numbers and suitable roosting sites.

The report was compiled and analysed from a number of respected sources and environmental organisations, reflecting years of dedicated and expert monitoring work by a community of species specialists and naturalists.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust CEO Rachael Bice said;

“Sadly, many of the species we share this amazing county with have been pushed to the brink of collapse. It would be a true tragedy for everyone who calls Yorkshire home if we lost the haunting call of the curlew, the abundance of gannets and puffins on our coastal cliffs, and the uplifting sight of butterflies dancing across our wildflower meadows. However, I have hope that this new analysis can direct how we can all work together to reverse declines and see our wildlife bounce back—before it is too late.”

Yorkshire’s diverse landscapes also provide a crucial haven for a staggering two-thirds of the UK’s wildlife species, including some species found nowhere else in the country. Whilst all habitats are important, the report reveals that limestone, wet and marine habitats provide important key opportunities where immediate and dedicated action could have the biggest impact for biodiversity and our native species.

The report also provides important evidence for Yorkshire as a stronghold for some of the UK’s rarest and threatened creatures and plants, meaning we have a particular responsibility to care for wild species including:

Birds: 35% of British breeding tree sparrows are found in Yorkshire, and 21% of the breeding population of the UK’s most threatened resident bird species, willow tits. Two thirds of regularly breeding and wintering birds in Britain can be found in Yorkshire.

Moths: Yorkshire is the only English county which is home to dark bordered beauty moths. Our county also supports over two-thirds of all British butterfly and moth species.

Plants: Yorkshire is the only place in the country where Yorkshire sandwort, thistle broomrape and lady’s slipper orchids are found. Nearly 1,000 species of native flowering plant and fern species are currently known in Yorkshire!

The Trust is calling for a widespread movement of change across the region which will be vital if beloved species including swifts and curlew are to recover.

Data and insights from the report are already being used by the Mayoral and Combined Authorities who are leading the development of Local Nature Recovery Strategies and it also contains valuable information for policy makers, planners and landowners caring for Yorkshire’s environment.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has developed a page of actions on their website to inspire people to help nature locally. Visit ywt.org.uk to find out more.

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