NEWS AND OPINION: Insect pollinators and other indicators of biodiversity in Britain have declined dramatically as indicated by a citizen science survey on car bug splatter. It’s a neat survey which indicates that over 17 years bug splat on cars have fallen almost 66% (two thirds). The information comes out as UK ministers are attending a UN summit in Montréal concerning a global deal to protect nature. Note: all the spattered insects probably felt pain on death.
Buglife, a charity, organised the citizen survey. They asked drivers to wipe numberplates clean and count the number of dead insects that this revealed when they reached their destination.
It was revealed that “splats per mile” had fallen 63.7% in 2021 compared with 2004. The survey results come from 4,000 journeys. Andrew Whitehouse, head of operations at Buglife said that they were potentially catastrophic adding “Urgent action is required to address the loss of the diversity and abundance of insect life.”
There are other key indicators demonstrating that England’s wildlife is in declining health and that nature in general is declining.
There were deteriorations in the short term in the:
- distribution of polluting insects
- abundance of priority species including skylarks and otters and
- the state of protected areas known as sites of special scientific interest
There is only one (out of seven) biodiversity indicator which points to an improvement. This applies to the extent of protected areas at sea. As I recall this a response to fishing which is destroying the seabed and ironically the fishermen come from mainland Europe not Britain.
The UK government, I’m told by The Times, chose to update only seven of 24 indicators of the state of biodiversity. Of the 24 indicators. 31% show a deterioration. There was an improvement in 24% of the indicators and in 20% there was little or no change. The others were unassessed or there is a lack of data.
The director of nature and science at the National Trust, Rosie Hails said that the recent biodiversity indicators “show that all the reviews, rhetoric and target setting of the last few decades are still not delivering for nature”.
The resources available to target conservation action and deliver positive outcomes fall far short of what is required and are far outweighed by the size of the problem according to Russel Hobson, the director of evidence and policy at the charity Butterfly Conservation.
It appears that the British government through Defra are setting long-term targets concerning species abundance at levels that would indicate that they accept a freefall in wildlife populations.
Comment: perhaps I’m being simplistic but with burgeoning human population growth in the UK, particularly in England, it’s implausible to think that we can protect nature. With increased human activity wildlife will suffer. There is no other conclusion.