New report reveals the 'State of Nature' in Northern Ireland

Tuesday 27 September 2016

The latest 'State of Nature' report, which reveals how local habitats and species are faring, has been launched to mark the start of Northern Ireland Environment Week at Stormont.

In 2013, a coalition of environmental organisations came together for the first time to assess the 'State of Nature' at a UK level and also produced a stand-alone report for Northern Ireland.

Locally more than 25 organisations contributed to the 2013 report, helping to provide a comprehensive picture of the pressures on nature and how individuals, organisations and governments can work together to stop the loss and bring nature back from the brink.

Now an updated report from the partnership shows, more clearly than ever before, that nature is in serious trouble in Northern Ireland.

There is just 0.04% of ancient woodland left in NI (compared to 2% in the UK) and just 8% of lowland bog is considered intact due to drainage, overgrazing and peat extraction.

Over 1,400 species have been assessed using modern IUCN Red List criteria. Of these, 295 (20%) are at risk of extinction from the island of Ireland. These include species like Irish damselfly, marsh fritillary butterfly, European eel and the red-tailed cuckoo bee. Meanwhile the most recent Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland report reveals that many iconic species like barn owls, curlews and corncrakes are at serious risk.

However the report also reveals that there are many nature conservation projects which are having a positive impact on the ground. These include initiatives to create wildlife friendly farmland in County Down to boost the numbers of yellowhammer and concerted action to improve the populations of the cryptic wood white butterfly in County Armagh.

State of Nature 2016 also reveals more positive trends for some NI species, particularly mammals. Common bat species have shown an increase of 132% over the last decade while otter numbers have increased by 14% since 2001.

Mark Eaton, lead author on the report, said: "Never before have we known this much about the state of UK nature and the threats it is facing. Since the 2013 report, the partnership has used this knowledge to underpin some amazing scientific and conservation work and must continue to do so to help restore our land and sea for wildlife.

"There is a real opportunity for the government to build on the efforts of these conservation organisations to deliver the large scale conservation action that is needed to bring the UK's wildlife back from the brink. Now is the time to create a bold and ambitious plan to pass on a healthier natural environment to the next generation.

"Of course, this report wouldn't have been possible without the army of dedicated volunteers who brave all conditions to survey the UK's wildlife. Knowledge is the most essential tool that a conservationist can have, and without their efforts, our knowledge would be significantly poorer."

To read the report in full, visit

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tagged with: Country: Northern Ireland Topic: Birds and wildlife Topic: Campaigns Topic: Climate change Topic: Conservation Topic: Farming Topic: Giving Nature a Home Topic: Green issues Topic: Habitat conservation Topic: Science Topic: Site conservation Topic: Species conservation