More effective protected areas needed to halt biodiversity loss - UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

ladybird on a leaf
The seven-spot ladybird (photo Denise Pallett) is an example of a common invertebrates that has declined in protected areas in the UK over the last three decades.

Protected natural areas of the UK are struggling to halt declines in insects and spiders that have occurred over the past 30 years, according to a new study led by researchers from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH).

Nature reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Special Areas of Conservation and other forms of protected habitat have long been regarded as a key tool in conservation efforts to preserve and restore natural habitats.

But the new study, which collated nearly one million records for more than 1,230 invertebrate species between 1990 and 2018, suggests these protected areas are just as susceptible to the wider declines in biodiversity occurring across the country.

The authors found that protected areas were richer in species than unprotected areas of the country, but both areas have suffered similar rates of decline in native insects and spiders over the past 30 years.

Pollinators, such as bees and hoverflies, have suffered particularly severe declines, according to the findings.

The results suggest that while protected areas are helping to conserve valuable habitats and the species within them, they need more assistance to tackle wider threats posed by climate change, pollution and invasive species that are causing biodiversity loss across the country.

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Posted On: 24/01/2023

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