First-ever report reveals Yorkshire’s pivotal role for UK wildlife

Red squirrel (c) Margaret HollandRed squirrel (c) Margaret Holland
Red squirrel (c) Margaret Holland
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have today (June 5 – World Environment Day) published the first-ever State of Yorkshire’s Nature report, which for the first time gives an accurate insight into how the whole of Yorkshire’s nature is faring.

The report aims to highlight that Yorkshire is not immune to the UK-wide nature crisis, where one in six of the country’s species are now assessed as being at risk.

The report shows that nearly 2,000 species have been lost from Yorkshire in the last 200 years, and another 3,000 species are at risk; curlew, for example, has been pushed to a few remaining pockets of safety in the uplands due to the loss of its lowland wetlands, easily-accessible food sources and a changing climate.

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Swifts, once a common species of the summer, have declined by 50% in Yorkshire since 1995 as a result of the rapid decline in insect numbers and suitable roosting sites.

Little Owl - Jon HawkinsLittle Owl - Jon Hawkins
Little Owl - Jon Hawkins

The report was compiled and analysed from a number of respected sources and environmental organisations, reflecting years of dedicated and expert monitoring work by a community of species specialists and naturalists.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust CEO Rachael Bice said: “Sadly, many of the species we share this amazing county with have been pushed to the brink of collapse.

“It would be a true tragedy for everyone who calls Yorkshire home if we lost the haunting call of the curlew, the abundance of gannets and puffins on our coastal cliffs, and the uplifting sight of butterflies dancing across our wildflower meadows.

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“We are losing what makes Yorkshire special, and sleepwalking towards homogenised landscapes where only the most common and adaptable species can survive alongside the demands of human life.

Dark Bordered Beauty (c) Robert GoodisonDark Bordered Beauty (c) Robert Goodison
Dark Bordered Beauty (c) Robert Goodison

“However, I have hope that this new analysis can direct how we can all work together to reverse declines and see our wildlife bounce back – before it is too late.”

Yorkshire’s diverse landscapes provide a crucial haven for two-thirds of the UK’s wildlife species, including some species found nowhere else in the country.

Whilst all habitats are important, the report reveals that limestone, wet and marine habitats provide important key opportunities where immediate and dedicated action could have the biggest impact for biodiversity and native species.

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The report also provides important evidence for Yorkshire as a stronghold for some of the UK’s rarest and threatened creatures and plants including:

Willow tit (c) Adam JonesWillow tit (c) Adam Jones
Willow tit (c) Adam Jones

Birds - 35% of British breeding tree sparrows are found in Yorkshire, and 21% of the breeding population of the UK’s most threatened resident bird species - willow tits.

Moths – Yorkshire is the only English county which is home to dark bordered beauty moths. The county also supports over two-thirds of all British butterfly and moth species.

Plants – Yorkshire is the only place in the country where Yorkshire sandwort, thistle broomrape and lady’s slipper orchids are found. Nearly 1,000 species of native flowering plant and fern species are currently known in Yorkshire.

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Rachael Bice said: “Yorkshire has the potential to lead the way nationally and showcase how nature can recover at scale.

“We can provide the space for the wonderful yet often rare plants and animals we still have here to recover once more, and bring back the wildlife we have lost.”

The report and actions can be found at https://www.ywt.org.uk/StateofNature.

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