Some groups of birds and butterflies have declined in the past decade, while the problem of foreign species invading the countryside has worsened, official measures of the health of England’s wildlife have shown.
The 26 indicators of the natural environment showed the situation had deteriorated for farmland, wetland and wintering water birds, for certain butterflies and the diversity of plants in some habitats.
The problem of invasive species on land, and in freshwater and the marine environment has also worsened over the last 10 years – and over the longer term, the data published by the Environment Department showed, Of the 36 individually assessed measures which make up the indicators, half showed an improvement since 2000, including nutrient levels in rivers and lakes, the condition of protected areas known as sites of special scientific interest and populations of bats. But more than a fifth (22 per cent) showed a deterioration, and 19 per cent showed no or little overall change.
Over the longer term, the situation under 10 different measures had got worse, including for populations of bats, species of butterflies found across the countryside, the size of fish in the North Sea and farmland and woodland birds. British Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “While it is good to see key species, such as bats, recovering and fewer of our priority species in decline, there is still a need for further action.”