Une étude menée par Hans de Kroon, chercheur à l’université de Radboud aux Pays-Bas, a révélé en juillet 2014 que les insecticides les plus répandus dans le monde, qui contiennent des néonicotinoïdes, seraient le principal facteur de la baisse du nombre d’oiseaux présents sur les terres agricoles. Il s’agit là d’une nouvelle preuve de l’impact des activités humaines sur la biodiversité. Le Royaume-Uni n’est pas épargné. En effet, le pays compte lui aussi de nombreuses espèces menacées…
60% of the wildlife in the UK have declined over the past 50 years, according to the State of Nature report that gathers individual studies carried out in recent years. Of 6,000 species assessed, one in ten are said to be under threat of extinction. Amongst the most endangered species are some mammals (red squirrels, water voles, or hedgehogs and harbor seals that have both declined by a third since 1996…), birds (nine-tenths of the overall turtle dove population has disappeared since the 1970s… ) and bugs (beetles, bees, butterflies…).
The report, published in 2013 by the RSPB (the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, a British conservation charity), sounds the alarm. First it does an assessment of the situation in the different ecosystems. Then it establishes the causes of the decline, which are diverse. However, the way the population and the industry manage British land and seas plays a crucial role. The document highlights that rising temperatures and habitat loss, induced by human activities, are largely responsible for this evolution. That is why the report calls for conservation. It is a matter of values such as respect, but a preserved environment would also benefit the human kind. Unfortunately, it is hard to stem the decline because isolated actions have very little impact on the environment. Moreover, each species needs specific remedies which could have harmful consequences on other species. For instance, helping water voles means killing minks which are their predators.
What does the government do to protect fauna and flora?
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs is aware that the natural environment is in jeopardy. In order to tackle this issue, the department has to take a certain number of necessary steps, which is exactly what it intends to do. They’re willing to use agreements to protect endangered species and to enforce laws against wildlife crime, not only in the UK but also internationally. Making sure areas of land are properly managed and conserved is another element of their plan. Furthermore, the DEFRA is considering the idea of simplifying wildlife protection guidance to make it easier for everyone to comply with the law and is combining national and international interests by implementing the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives (the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy) better.
The government can rely on the help of 48 Local Nature Partnerships, local organisations or businesses across England, which bring about improvements in their local natural environment. They are also working with nature conservation charities and centres, such as the National Trust, RSPB, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Natural England, in order to address this problem. For instance, one of the latest projects for both Natural England and the government is to run an Area-Based Management and Licensing trial for cormorants this year. It’s a new approach to handling predation by cormorants available to all fisheries in England late this year or early 2015. The DEFRA will then evaluate the success of those new trials and take the necessary steps.
What about the Green Party ?
The Green Party truly believes that everyone is responsible for protecting our wildlife and its diversity. That’s why they assert, as seen in their manifesto 2010, that they would reduce the use of pesticides and press to extend the amount of land covered by the EU Habitats Directives in the UK. They demand that animal welfare be included as a consideration in trade agreements. They would strengthen the protection of species. In the way of the DEFRA, the GPEW is also interested in preventing wildlife crime. Lately, they have claimed that they have the strongest policies on animal protection of all the parliamentary parties.
One of the Greens’ candidates, John Hunt is deeply concerned about our disappearing wildlife: the red list of endangered species now includes 1,305 land animals in Europe. In the UK, honeybees could disappear by 2018, which threatens all species that depend on them, which in turn also has consequences for the human kind… By making all those statements, the GPEW may gain even more momentum as people are increasingly worried about the environmental issue and particularly that of the future of endangered species.
Watch the National Geographic video:
Claire ALVES & Emeline CARPENTIER