One in 11 Scottish species threatened with extinction, new study finds

Wednesday 14 September 2016

It's not too late to save nature in Scotland but we must act now - that is the conclusion from a coalition of 50 leading wildlife and research organisations behind the State of Nature 2016 report.

Following on from the groundbreaking State of Nature report in 2013, leading professionals from 50 wildlife organisations in Scotland have pooled expertise and knowledge to present the clearest picture to date of the status of our native species across land and sea.

In Scotland, one in every 11 species assessed is at risk of becoming extinct (9%) and for some groups of species that threat is even higher. For example, 18% of butterflies, 15% of dragonflies and 13% of plants are officially classified as being at risk of extinction. Across the UK as a whole, over one in ten species assessed are under threat of disappearing altogether (13%) and 2% have already become extinct.

There are many inspiring examples of the conservation action that is helping to turn the tide in Scotland. For instance, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust is working with farmers and communities to create more habitats for great yellow bumblebees across their range in Caithness; the John Muir Trust is tackling damage caused by deer to ancient Atlantic oak and hazel woodland with a combination of fencing and planting; and RSPB Scotland is restoring the globally important expanse of blanket bog in the Flow Country after it was damaged by inappropriate commercial conifer plantations. But much more work is needed to put nature back where it belongs.

As the Scottish and UK Governments move forward in the light of the EU Referendum result, there is an opportunity to secure world leading protection for our species and restoration of our nature. Now is the time to make ambitious decisions and significant investment in the environment to ensure year-on-year improvement to the health and protection of the country's habitats and wildlife for future generations.

The State of Nature 2016 UK report will be launched by Sir David Attenborough in London today (Wednesday, September 14), while separate events are being held to launch the Scottish, Welsh and Irish versions of the report in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast respectively over the coming week.

Sir David Attenborough said: "The natural world is in serious trouble and it needs our help as never before. The rallying call issued after the State of Nature report in 2013 has promoted exciting and innovative conservation projects. Landscapes are being restored, special places defended, struggling species being saved and brought back. But we need to build significantly on this progress if we are to provide a bright future for nature and for people. The future of nature is under threat and we must work together; governments, conservationists, businesses and individuals, to help it. Millions of people care very passionately about nature and the environment and I believe that we can work together to turn around the fortunes of wildlife."

The Edinburgh event is being held at the Holyrood Hotel from 6pm this evening (Wednesday September 14) with the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, in attendance, as well as a host of leading conservation and research organisations.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, said: "This report highlights the challenges which lie ahead in conserving Scotland's wonderful nature. The Scottish Government is committed to driving forward Scotland's Biodiversity Strategy, the 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity, and its accompanying Route Map to 2020. We will publish a progress report at the end of this month and early indications show the majority of actions included in the Route Map are on track to achieve their targets. We have so much to be proud of in Scotland and so much to protect and enhance. That means we all have much work to do and I look forward to working with our partners to improve the state of nature in Scotland."

The widespread decline of nature in Scotland remains a serious problem to this day and there is little evidence to suggest that the rate of loss is slowing down. In order to help struggling species, we need to understand what's causing these declines. Using evidence gathered as part of the State of Nature report, experts have identified that significant and ongoing changes in agricultural practices are having the single biggest impact on nature.

Mark Eaton, one of the lead authors on the report, said: "Never before have we known this much about the state of nature in Scotland and the threats it is facing. The partnership and many landowners are using the knowledge we're gathering to underpin some amazing scientific and conservation work. But more is needed to put nature back where it belongs - we must continue to work to help restore our land and sea for wildlife. There is a real opportunity for the Scottish and UK Governments to build on these efforts and deliver the significant investment and ambitious action needed to bring nature back from the brink. Of course, this report wouldn't have been possible without the army of dedicated volunteers who brave all conditions to survey Scotland's wildlife. Knowledge is the most essential tool that a conservationist can have, and without their efforts, our knowledge would be significantly poorer."

For full copies of the Scottish and UK wide State of Nature 2016 reports, and to find out how you can do your bit to save wildlife visit

A full copy of the State of Nature 2016 report is available as a PDF on request or can be viewed at:

The State of Nature 2016 UK partnership includes: A Focus on Nature, A Rocha UK, Association of Local Environmental Records Centres, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust, Biological Records Centre, Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, British Bryological Society, British Dragonfly Society,British Lichen Society, British Pteridological Society, British Trust for Ornithology, Buglife Scotland, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation Scotland, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management, Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Earthwatch Institute, Freshwater Habitats Trusts, Froglife Scotland, Fungus Conservation Trust, iSpotnature (The Open University), John Muir Trust, Mammal Society,Marine Biological Association, Marine Conservation Society, MARINElife, Marine Ecosystem Research Programme, National Trust for Scotland, National Biodiversity Network, National Forum for Biological Recording, Natural History Museum, Orca, People's Trust for Endangered Species, Plantlife, PREDICTS, Rothamsted Research, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Badgers, Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science, Shark Trust, Sheffield University, Vincent Wildlife Trust, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, The Scottish Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust Scotland, World Wildlife Fund, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Zoological Society of London.

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tagged with: Country: Scotland Topic: Birds and wildlife