09/03/2011
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Ambitious campaign is launched for global wildlife

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The RSPB has launched the most ambitious campaign in its 122-year history today, in an effort to end the continuing threat to wildlife in the UK and across the world. In 2010 the world failed to meet a global target to halt the decline in biodiversity. A new target was set by the EU for 2020, and UK governments have signed up to it.

The RSPB's Stepping Up for Nature campaign aims to set out a roadmap to 2020 and to encourage Government, businesses and individuals to Step Up and play their part for nature. Environment secretary Caroline Spelman has welcomed the campaign and will be speaking at the official launch in London today.

Farmland bird populations have fallen by half, some of our best-loved native birds including Cuckoo, House Sparrow and Nightingale are in sharp decline and once widespread species such as Corncrake, Turtle Dove and Red-backed Shrike are desperately clinging on in small pockets. The Greater Horseshoe Bat is now one of the country's rarest species, just a few populations of the once widespread High Brown Fritillary butterfly remain, eel populations have crashed by 95% and one in five wildflowers are threatened with extinction.

Corncrake
Corncrake, undisclosed site, Outer Hebrides (Photo: Peter Walkden)

The face of our countryside has changed dramatically. Eighty per cent of lowland heathland has disappeared, 100 hectares of saltmarsh are lost each year, almost three-quarters of rivers in England and Wales are failing European standards and in 60 years we have lost 95% of our wildflower meadows.

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Mike Clarke, RSPB Chief Executive, said: "When we missed the 2010 biodiversity target we failed nature. We can't let that happen again. Over the next decade we have the opportunity to fix the problems that are causing the loss of wildlife in the UK and across the world. We have a choice here, and if our politicians make the right choices then we can create a space for nature in our countryside, ensure vital habitats are not lost and bring back those species on the brink."

Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike, Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk (Photo: Garth Peacock)

"But this is a process we must all be involved in. Everyone can do their bit. If we can encourage people from all walks of life to take millions of steps for nature, then those we elect will be forced to sit up and take notice. From schoolchildren creating a wildlife garden in the corner of their playground right up to ministers creating a vital piece of legislation that protects our natural environment, we all have a part to play between now and 2020. This is the most ambitious campaign the RSPB has launched in its long history, and the challenge ahead of us is huge. But the prize on offer is even bigger. A healthy natural world where all life can thrive."

Cuckoo
Cuckoo, Achinhoan, Argyll (Photo: Jimmay MacDonald)

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: "The natural environment is one of the areas where the Big Society can really make an impact. The RSPB is the Big Society in action, harnessing the passion, commitment and expertise of its one million members to achieve significant results for the natural environment, and I wish them every success in the most ambitious campaign in their 122-year history. By all working together — Government, business, communities and individuals — we can make a real difference to our country by reducing the loss of our many species and habitats."

Written by: RSPB