· Time is running out to save some of our most treasured wildlife
· 41 Welsh species considered critically endangered in Great Britain
· We can all play a role in reversing nature's decline
On Wednesday 21 September, a coalition of more than 50 leading conservation bodies across Wales will unite to highlight the state of nature in Wales.
Following the groundbreaking State of Nature: Wales report in 2013, leading experts from 50 wildlife and research organisations (note 2) have pooled knowledge and expertise to present an even clearer picture of the status of Wales' wildlife. The 2016 report reveals that 56% of species studied have declined across the UK over the last 50 years. In Wales, one in 14 species is heading for extinction - with a worrying 57% of wild plants, 60% of butterflies and 40% of birds in decline (note 3).
We also know far more about our marine wildlife than ever before. More than one third of (known) marine vertebrate and plant life has diminished, with three quarters of marine invertebrates declining across the UK (note 4). A new measure has been developed to assess the health of our natural environment. A score of 90% or lower is thought to be the threshold at which our ecosystems can no longer function to meet our, or nature's needs (note 3). Of all 218 countries assessed, Wales' score is just under 83% and in the bottom quarter in terms of the state of our natural ecosystems. This is slightly better than Scotland (81.3%), England (80.6%) and Northern Ireland (80%), but well behind other European nations such as Germany (88.3%) and Norway (95.3%).
RSPB Cymru Biodiversity Manager and one of the authors on the 2016 report, Stephen Bladwell, said: "Never before have we known this much about the state of nature in Wales and the threats it is facing. For the first time, we've been able to identify and quantify the main reasons why our wildlife is changing - and it's clear that changes in land management and climate change are the two greatest factors that impact nature. "Over the last decade the decline in nature has continued. However there is good news. We know that, when implemented well, conservation measures work and can help reverse species and habitat decline. This is evident with the rise in numbers of otters and bats, as well as butterflies like the ringlet and birds such as the red kite."
To raise awareness about our natural world and how we can help halt these declines, the State of Nature: Wales 2016 report will be launched at a free public event on Wednesday 21 September, at St David's Shopping Centre Cardiff. Young People's Laureate for Wales 2013-2016, Martin Daws, 2016 National Eisteddfod's chaired bard, Aneirin Karadog, and rapper Ed Holden (aka Mr Phormula) have been commissioned to write poetry based on nature in Wales. On the day they will join forces with a number of leading Welsh artists - each highlighting the importance of nature through a series of live performances, at both 12pm and 5pm (note 5).
Performer and chaired bard, Aneirin Karadog, said: "As a young boy growing up I was lucky to be surrounded by a wealth of wildlife on my doorstep. Being in contact with nature is one of the greatest gifts and as a father it saddens me to think that there is less wildlife in Wales today to inspire future generations. However, we're renowned as a passionate nation in Wales and I believe we can use that passion to turn the fortunes of our wildlife around." Over the coming week communities, schools and members of the public will have the opportunity to describe in their own words 'what nature means to them'. They will be able to write their own personal messages on a number of large canvases which will be travelling around the country - all illustrating some of Wales' most threatened species (note 5). The canvasses will then be exhibited at the public launch on the 21 September, celebrating and raising awareness of nature in Wales. Spoken Word poet, Martin Daws, said: "As someone who loves storytelling, of both the written and spoken word, I'm looking forward to bringing the story of nature in Wales to life. Whether we're aware of it or not, nature is something that affects all of us and we can each play a part when it comes to help saving it."
The State of Nature partnership is encouraging people to do their bit for nature by getting involved with a broad range of projects, run by the State of Nature partners to help nature. Volunteers can select projects from the following categories; counting and monitoring nature, campaigning, managing your space and living sustainably. For all the details on the projects visit rspb.org.uk/stateofnature.
Stephen continued: "How we protect and manage our environment is key to reversing nature's decline. It needs a coordinated approach across government, business, conservation organisations and the public. The National Assembly for Wales recently passed a landmark piece of law which, if implemented effectively, could see Wales leading the way for biodiversity recovery in the UK. We need the Welsh Government, supported by the people of Wales, to rise to the challenge."