RSPB Nene Washes Nature Reserve, reintroducing the Corncrake Crex crex to the reserve, Cambridgeshire

Which species need help?

A daunting number of species in the UK have declining populations. Some populations have already declined to a fraction of their former size. There are still more getting into difficulties.

Species in need

Birds of Conservation Concern - a report by many bird conservation organisations - identifies 67 bird species in the UK of high conservation priority. 

There are also a number of species for which we have a special involvement. These include scarce birds which are not currently declining, but of which a significant proportion of the population is on our nature reserves. Combining these with a few other species of regional importance, as well as a number of species of other taxa (not birds), we now have a priority list of species in need of action.

However, we do not have the resources to tackle every species on this list at once. We have therefore had to identify the species most in need of urgent help.

How did we prioritise?

We had to ask some difficult questions and make some even more difficult choices. We considered a number of factors, including which species could become extinct in the UK without urgent action and what kind of help each species needs.

We considered which species, whilst in need of conservation action, could realistically 'hang on' until the most urgent cases have been tackled. There are also a number of vulnerable species, often rare, which are managing right now, but which we must watch in case something drastic happens. We'll continue to monitor their situation.

Taking species on a journey to recovery

Helping species to a good conservation status is rather like a journey. Every journey is unique, but each passes through the same four stages:

  • Identifying there's a problem, and researching to find out what's causing it
  • Developing practical solutions and trialling them to make sure they work
  • Providing these solutions across the whole range of the species
  • Reaching improved conservation status

Once the species' status has improved, regular land or marine management should be able to maintain these populations, and further conservation intervention should not be necessary.

We have a great track record of helping species but the journey from first stage to last stage is a big commitment. We can't do it all – but we do have a strategy for how we can make a difference.