As parents, we all appreciate the benefit of spending time outside and connecting with wildlife for our kids, but did you know that nature is fairing far worse in the UK than most other countries?
This is the stark conclusion of the State of the Nature Report 2016, an assessment into how nature is fairing across the UK, which draws on the data and expertise provided by more than 50 nature conservation and research organisations, making it the largest collaboration of it’s kind in UK conservation.
As well as highlighting that nature is in serious decline across the UK, with 56% of our native species having reduced in numbers over the last 50 years, including 15% that are at risk of extinction, it also demonstrates the positive steps that have, and are being taken, to support our wildlife.
So what can we do as a family to support our wildlife and wild spaces? Can we do more than just providing for the wildlife in our own back gardens? The report states that current agricultural practices and climate change are two of the biggest influences affecting our native species. Although it is hard to see how one family can achieve much faced by such gigantic problems and industries, the partnership working demonstrated in the State of Nature Report shows us exactly how we, as individuals, can support the valuable work that those organisations are doing.
Over 7,500,000 volunteer hours go into monitoring UK nature every year, and it is those hours that provide much of the evidence underpinning this report . Not only is it a powerful tool for planning and evaluating intervention that can be made to support our wildlife, but it also provides hard facts to present to our policy makers, which in turn could have a powerful long term affect in supporting the UK’s nature and wild spaces. By contributing to the monitoring of wildlife in the UK families can make a real difference.
There are numerous wildlife organisations who rely on volunteers to help to monitor wildlife, and you can survey anything from invertebrates and plant life through to mammals. As well as making a vital contribution to the work of our conservationists, carrying out surveys gives individuals the opportunity to develop skills in species identification, field survey skills as well as giving you the perfect excuse to get out and about, enjoying our wonderful nature. Even if you don’t feel ready to make a formal commitment to surveying, it is still possible to record sightings via a number of apps such as The Mammal Society’s App ‘The Mammal Tracker’ which has the added bonus of recording your location and providing you with a fab species id tool.
We are so excited about the wildlife surveys we have signed up to take part in in 2017, we will be monitoring birds that visit our garden, surveying a stretch of river bank for signs of water voles and carrying out an earthworm count in the autumn. Why not make 2017 the year that you do something extra to support our wildlife and the people who work so hard to preserve it, and sign up for wildlife survey too.