Wildlife landscapes at peril, says report

Nearly half of England’s landscapes singled out by law to protect wildlife are failing to safeguard rare plants, animals and habitats, says a unique new report.

Nearly half of England’s landscapes singled out by law to protect wildlife are failing to safeguard rare plants, animals and habitats, says a unique new report. The report by English Nature took six years to complete and is billed as the “first definitive survey” of its kind by the Government’s wildlife advisor. Some 42 per cent of sites of special scientific interest need improving, said the watchdog. Chief executive Andy Brown called for changes in the law to increase protection, the reform of environmentally-damaging government policies and more investment in the landscapes. England’s best wildlife and geological sites said the four main causes of damage were overgrazing, bad coastal management, inappropriate moor burning and a decline in the quality and quantity of freshwater. Brown reckoned the survey was the first of its kind anywhere in the world and hailed its coverage of 1 million hectares of coastal mudflats, marshes and moorland as a fantastic achievement. The smallest SSSI is a house roof space in Gloucestershire used by lesser horseshoe bats; the biggest 62,000 hectares of marshland and mudflats in The Wash. Copies of the report are available at www.english-nature.org.uk, phone 01733 455100.

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