04/10/2019 in RZSS
The State of Nature Report 2019 has confirmed the worrying trend that wildlife throughout the UK is declining at a rapid rate.
More than 70 organisations, including RZSS and our project partners, contributed to this year’s report assessing the current situation for native biodiversity, and revealed a concerning reality for Scotland’s wildlife. Of the species studied in Scotland, 49% show a decline, with one in nine species, including the Scottish wildcat threatened with extinction.
Barbara Smith, CEO of The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland said: “The statistics for Scotland and the UK as a whole are alarming and it’s clear immediate action is needed. As things stand, we are at risk of destroying our own life-support machine.
“The evidence that human activities are behind nature’s rapid decline is over-whelming, caused by deforestation and development, hunting and poaching, the destruction of our seas and oceans, pollution and, of course, climate change.”
The report does highlight hopes surrounding the return of the Eurasian beaver. Once widespread across Scotland, England and Wales, beavers were hunted to extinction by the end of the 16th century. Together with our partner organisations Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland, we have been working to bring this remarkable species back to their native range. Beginning in 2009 with the very first beaver reintroduction to the Knapdale forest in Argyll, the Scottish Beaver Trial took its first bold steps in the journey to attempt the reintroduction of the lost species. Ten years later, in May 2019, the Scottish Government declared the species is here to stay, and beavers were declared a protected species in Scotland.
Beavers have an overall positive influence on ecosystems with a wide range of species benefiting from the habitats created, including fish, amphibians, and invertebrates. With further trials taking place in England and Wales, and an increasing number of beavers in the wild this iconic native species is at last making a return.
Barbara added: “RZSS’s ground-breaking science and research continues to enable us to learn more about the incredible species in our care and inform measures to help safeguard species in the wild here in Scotland and further across the globe. Our education programme for schools has reached over one million young people in the past four decades with the aim to inspire the next generation of conservationists and reconnect them with nature.
“Though faced with these threats, we also have an opportunity. Because recognising that there is no future without nature is also to acknowledge the need to act now – and together.”
Find out more about our conservation work with beavers as well as our efforts in over 20 countries across the globe, including native wildcats and pine hover flies here.
We would like to thank the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for their generous support which has helped restore beavers to Scotland.