Today, alongside many of our conservation partners here in the East, we are calling for more to be done to help the region’s wildlife.  Why? Today, the State of Nature 2016 report is being launched by Sir David Attenborough and UK conservation and research organisations in London.

Following on from the groundbreaking State of Nature report in 2013, leading professionals from 53 wildlife organisations have pooled expertise and knowledge to present the clearest picture to date of the status of our native species across land and sea. The bad news is that the report reveals that over half (56%) of UK species studied have declined since 1970, while more than one in ten (1,199 species) of the nearly 8000 species assessed in the UK are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.

It's pretty stark stuff, and here in the East it's more important than ever that we work together to save nature. The Eastern region is home to large proportions of the UK’s wildlife rich habitat including fens (80%), reedbed (50%) and saltmarsh (31%), making the area a stronghold for many vulnerable wildlife species. Over half of all UK turtle doves are found in the East, a species that in recent years has declined by 97% and over 90% of the UK’s rare fen orchid can now only be found within the Norfolk Broads.

Here's how conservationists around the region have reacted to the report:

John Sharpe, Conservation Officer, RSPB

“The Eastern region is one of the last remaining strongholds for species like turtle dove, nightingale and fen orchid. Without our help, they could disappear from the UK forever.  The report findings are a stark reminder of the work we have ahead of us, but there is hope.We can be extremely proud of the conservation work taking place in this region thanks to passionate individuals and innovative partnerships. Through targeted initiatives we have already seen significant reversals of the decline in creatures such as stone curlew and bittern. 

“However, there is so much more to do, and no one organisation or group can do it on their own. It is crucial that conservationists, landowners and managers and businesses in the region work together if we want to ensure that the East remains one of the most wildlife rich landscapes in the UK.”

Oliver Burke, Director of Living Landscapes, Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire:

“Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire have historically seen some of the highest rates of species loss in the UK.  The State of Nature Report is a powerful tool to help raise awareness around this continued decline both locally and at a national level.  By doing this it enables our Trust to champion the conservation of our most cherished species, taking action at a local level.  As a result it’s not all doom and gloom and our three counties can highlight some real conservation success stories, from the water vole stronghold at the Great Fen and the successful dormouse reintroduction project at Bampton Wood, to the fantastic wetland creation in the Nene Valley supporting internationally important numbers of wintering wetland birds.”

Brendan Joyce, CEO, Norfolk Wildlife Trust:

"It is time for us to take action to save nature and we are calling on people to give their support. We can all do something for nature, whether it is volunteering on a nature reserve, surveying species, making wildlife-friendly gardens, supporting landscape-scale conservation projects, or by becoming a member of a conservation charity."

Julian Roughton, Chief Executive, Suffolk Wildlife Trust:

“The State of Nature highlights great successes in turning around the fortunes of some of our rarest and most vulnerable species. In contrast on farmland once widespread species continue to decline as a result of intensive management, which is of special to concern to us in a farming county such as Suffolk.

"Where farmers are supported to create wildlife habitats species, such as skylark and yellowhammer, can thrive. But we need to address this at a landscape scale to stem the decline in farmland species. Brexit provides an opportunity for a new vision for farming that sustains wildlife and addresses decades of wildlife declines.”

Andrew Impey, CEO, Essex Wildlife Trust:

 "Three years on from the first State of Nature report and there is yet more compelling evidence of a serious and sustained decline in our wildlife. However, we now have a portfolio of projects, partnerships and innovative approaches that are potential solutions, demonstrating just what can be done to tackle this issue. In Essex we have demonstrated a suite of techniques for wetland creation and regeneration, which benefits wildlife, but which also delivers flood risk mitigation and catchment management.

"Conservation NGOs have the relevant skills and knowledge and are desperate to work with the Government, to deliver sustainable ecosystems, that deliver food and clean water, but that also thrive in rich biodiversity. However, without Government will to engage, it’s like an engine running low on oil – on the surface it is functioning, but underneath it is teetering on the edge of terminal failure.

"Losing iconic species from our region would be bad enough; losing them while knowing that we could have done something to prevent it would be unthinkable."

Aidan Lonergan, West Anglia Area Manager, Natural England:

“This report outlines that there are still significant challenges that we collectively face in the maintaining a healthy natural environment. There are worrying trends with declines in once common species, and ever increasing pressures on our wildlife. Natural England is working closely with our partners to target our efforts where we can achieve the most. We need a coherent landscape scale approach to conservation - offering places like our National Nature Reserves for people to reconnect with nature, to provide cleaner air and water, and to help us be resilient to the threats of climate change.

Our partnership work on the Great Fen in Cambridgeshire is a fantastic example of how we can restore nature by working together at a landscape scale. Natural England are helping to connect the wildlife rich National Nature Reserves at Woodwalton and Holme Fen, by restoring arable farmland back to the traditional fenland habitats that once were there; Not only offering flood storage, but a wonderful place to see historic fenland management and to enjoy some outdoor recreation in a beautiful countryside”  

For a full copy of the State of Nature 2016 report and to find out how you can do your bit to save UK wildlife –