New report shows Scottish wildlife is on the decline
The report warned that certain groups of animals monitored are at risk of becoming nationally extinct in Scotland.
Scotland’s wildlife continues to decline, a new report has found, with one in nine of the species examined at risk of becoming extinct north of the border.
The State of Nature Scotland report warned the risk of extinction among some groups, such as vertebrates, is much higher at more than a third (36.5%).
Between 1986 and 2019, the abundance of 11 annually monitored Scottish breeding seabird species fell by 49%.
The results predate the ongoing outbreak of Avian flu.
The report found a 47% decline since in 1970 in the distribution of flowering plant species and a 62% decline in bryophytes, such as mosses, liverworts and hornworts, with climate change said to be hitting the latter.
The researchers said there has been a 57% decline in lichen species since 1970.
The report was carried out by professionals from more than 50 nature and conservation organisations, using the latest data available.
Researchers began monitoring a total of 407 species in 1994, who noted their abundance has reduced on average by 15%.
The researchers note that while some of the monitored species have increased in population, in the last decade alone, 43% have declined.
Since 1994, swifts, curlews and lapwings have declined by more than 70%.
Certain species of moths, including rosy minor, satyr pug, and grey mountain carpet have declined in population by more than 90%.
Researchers warned that while many of the species in decline are not well-known, they form an integral part of wider environmental health.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is one of the many organisations involved in the newly released report.
Paul Walton, head of species and habitats for RSPB Scotland, said: “Species are the building blocks of ecosystems.
“Every time we allow a species to go into decline, or to be lost from our country, we progressively undermine the health and functions our ecosystems.
“This is a fundamental problem for the living world, including us. Ecosystems provide food, water, air, they underpin the economy and give us health and wellbeing.
“The State of Nature report shows that not only is Scotland one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world due to historic losses, but that we are still losing nature now.”
He added: “The findings should be a further wake-up call that, despite extraordinary efforts across our society to restore ecosystems, save species and move towards nature-friendly land and sea use, there’s much more we need to do to halt and reverse the declines.
“Thankfully, there are straightforward solutions and plenty of opportunities for the Scottish Parliament to make a difference in the coming months.
“Our nature is declining, but Scotland still has incredible natural treasures, deeply embedded in our culture, that we must urgently conserve and restore. We must take these opportunities before it’s too late.”
Professor Colin Galbraith, chair of NatureScot, said: “Scotland is rich with passion, endeavour and concern for our natural world and, as we work tirelessly to tackle the nature-climate emergency, it is clear that ambition for landscape-scale, collaborative conservation efforts has never been so vital.
“The State of Nature report is evidence that Scotland’s nature is in crisis, but it also inspires us with what can be achieved by farmers, foresters, communities, charities and scientists when we all take the urgent action needed to protect and restore our ecosystems and species before it is too late.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat climate emergency spokesman Liam McArthur said: “Almost half of species in Scotland are in decline. Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has launched yet another consultation on a biodiversity strategy that was supposed to be implemented at the start of the year.
“That is not the urgency we need to see in the face of a climate and nature emergency. Hopefully, this latest report from RSPB will be the wake-up call that ministers clearly need”.
Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater said: “This report should leave no-one in any doubt about the damaging impact of our rapidly changing climate on Scotland’s precious plants and animals.
“This crisis affects everyone – we all depend on biodiversity for food, clean water, fibres and medicines.
“It can also help prevent flooding, and contributes to our health and wellbeing.
“It is the best chance we have to adapt to climate change and ensure we can continue to enjoy nature’s benefits.”
The minister said the Scottish Government is taking “urgent action” through its £65 million Nature Restoration Fund and £250 million peatland restoration programme.
She said the country’s biodiversity strategy aims to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and hopes to reverse declines by 2045.
She added: “Restoring Scotland’s nature creates so many great opportunities for everyone.
“Communities, businesses, environmental organisations and decision-makers alike must all work together to reverse biodiversity decline and protect our natural environment for future generations.”