Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

ITV News Reporter James Webster speaks to conservationists who say nature needs to recover across the country, not just at nature reserves

Britain is one of the most impoverished countries in the world with about half of its biodiversity left.

The country may not have enough biodiversity – the diversity of plant and animal life – to prevent an ecological meltdown, researchers said.

It has only 53% of biodiversity left, well below the global average of 75%, according to the Natural History Museum.

Both figures are below the 90% level that experts believe is necessary to prevent the world from collapsing in an “ecological recession”.

Ecological recession can lead to a future where ecosystems do not have enough biodiversity to function well, which can lead to crop failures and attacks that can cause shortages of food, energy and materials.

Britain has only 53% of its biodiversity left, with species such as the red squirrel in decline Credit: Danny Lawson / PA

“Much of the world has lost a large amount of its natural biodiversity,” said Dr. Adriana De Palma from the Natural History Museum.

“These systems have lost enough biodiversity to mean that we need to be careful about trusting that they work the way we need them.”

Researchers at the museum developed the Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII), which measures the percentage of nature left in an area.

Britain’s 53% BII is in the bottom 10% of the world’s countries and last among the G7 group of nations.

Much of nature’s damage is associated with the industrial revolution, said Professor Andy Purvis, of the Department of Natural History’s Department of Life Sciences.

He said, “It mechanized the destruction of nature to some degree and turned it into goods for profit.”

A hazel dormitory, one of Britain’s endangered species. Credit: Peter Byrne / PA

Dr. De Palma said that although there are some increases in the amount of high-quality natural vegetation supporting native species, these gains have been offset by the expansion of cultivated fields and urban areas and population growth.

Prof Purvis said he hoped Britain would not just rely on “offshoring damage to biodiversity elsewhere”.

The Natural History Museum hopes its research will help global leaders next week when they meet for the UN Biodiversity Conference, known as COP15.

The conference, hosted by China, will take place online on 11-15. October. Another meeting will be held in Kunming City in the spring of next year.

Leaders will try to agree on new goals over the next 10 years.

Leaders meet next week at COP15 to discuss nature conservation across the planet, such as endangered Asian elephants Credit: Peter Byrne / PA

None of the world’s last wildlife protection targets set in Aichi, Japan, in 2010 were met.

“This is our last best chance for a sustainable future,” Purvis said of COP15.

He continued: “Stopping further damage to the planet requires major changes, but we can do it if we act together now.

“Muddling through, as we are currently doing, is nowhere near enough to stop, let alone reverse, the ongoing worldwide decline in biodiversity.”

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