New report shows Wales close to bottom of international league table for nature

Friday 14 May 2021

• A league table showing how much of the natural world is left in 240 countries around the world shows Wales languishing at 16th from bottom

• Using the UN’s Biodiversity Intactness Indicator the new report reveals that nature in Wales has declined perilously, with a little over half of its plants and animals remaining

• The RSPB is calling on the First Minister to use international commitments as a catalyst for delivering action at home through legally binding targets to halt and reverse wildlife declines in Wales

A new report from the RSPB and Natural History Museum shows the perilous state of nature in Wales, along with other parts of the UK.

Globally, Wales scores sixteenth worst of 240 countries assessed.

The new league table is the latest in a growing body of scientific reports that highlights the urgent need for action from the Welsh Government in order to halt and reverse declines in wildlife. Using the Biodiversity Intactness Indicator (BII), an internationally approved scientific measurement of the long-term impact of human activity on plants, animals and landscapes, scientists are able to judge the extent of nature loss in different countries. 

Wales has a score of 51%, which means it has retained just over half of its plants and animals. The UK’s overall score is 50%, compared with 65% for France, 67% for Germany and 89% for Canada, which is among the best countries or territories worldwide for retaining its natural biodiversity. 

In 2019 the State of Nature Report showed that Welsh wildlife is continuing to decline, and revealed that 8% of species in Wales were threatened with extinction from Great Britain. When considered alongside the BII assessment it becomes clear that Wales is at a critical point where, if nothing is done, we will have lost more than we have left.

Katie-Jo Luxton, Director of RSPB Cymru said:  

“This report shows the urgent plight of nature in Wales. The nature emergency is happening now; wildlife is disappearing on our watch. Each generation of children in Wales inherits a further depleted natural environment; less able to support to meet our needs for clean air, water and food, less able to protect us from disasters such as flood, drought and climate change and no longer connected to the wildlife that inspires and restores our well-being. This is a call to action to the new Welsh Government to be the first Government in our lifetimes to stop this rot and restore nature in Wales.

This autumn the international community will come together to set new goals and targets for the next decade – the UK failed to achieve 17 out of 20 of the targets set for 2010-2020. The last Welsh Government pledged strong support and called for transformative change under the UN Convention on Biological Diversityi; we need strong commitments and new laws at home to make sure we succeed over the next decade.”

Nature Friendly Farming Network Cymru Chair, Hilary Kehoe, said:

“With over 80% of Wales farmed, nature-friendly farming is the solution to restoring nature in Wales.  But in order to do this, farmers need to be better supported through new agricultural policies that facilitate and rewards nature friendly farming.”

The RSPB is calling on the Welsh Government to commit to:  

  • Set legally binding targets to halt and start to reverse wildlife declines by 2030 

  • Establish an independent watchdog with the power to hold government to account  

  • Bring forward a Wales Agriculture Bill/Sustainable Farming Scheme based on public money for public goods, that rewards farmers for looking after and restoring nature and the numerous benefits it provides. 

To put Wales back on track, RSPB Cymru is giving everyone a place to voice their call to politicians to Revive our World; to find out more visit rspb.org.uk/reviveourworldcymru

ENDS

Notes to the editor:  

  1. The new report from the RSPB and Natural History Museum is available here.

  2. The State of Nature 2019 report can be found here.

  3. The Welsh Government is a leading signatory to the Edinburgh Declaration, which sets out the aspirations and commitments of subnational governments and partners in delivering for nature over the coming decade

  4. The RSPB’s report A Lost Decade for Nature documents the failure across the UK to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, agreed under the UN CBD in 2010.

Last Updated: Monday 17 May 2021

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