Natural England welcomes today’s publication of the Countryside Survey 2007. The Survey presents a mixed picture of progress in maintaining biodiversity across the UK, and strongly affirms the conclusions reached in Natural England's State of the Natural Environment report published earlier this year.
Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of Natural England, said, "The Countryside Survey shows that support for wildlife-friendly land management can make a real difference. But there is no room for complacency - it is clear that many wildlife habitats are suffering from neglect or decline, and that more action is needed if we are to halt, and ultimately reverse, biodiversity loss".
The Countryside Survey suggests that while the overall species richness of the countryside is not drastically changing, the underlying picture continues to be one of winners and losers. Woods, ponds and hedgerows remain in our landscape but are in increasingly poor condition.
Some common species are increasing - sometimes through lack of management - whilst habitat patches that are good for biodiversity are seriously declining.
On farmland there are encouraging signs that policies such as set-aside and agri-environment schemes have had an important effect. The demise of set-aside since the survey could, therefore, be a significant blow to the wider environment and decisions to be made shortly on securing the environmental legacy of set-aside are likely to be critical in ensuring that recent biodiversity gains are not lost.
Natural England emphasised that the mixed picture of today's survey underlined the need for integrated landscape-scale conservation to run alongside the protection of our rarest species and most precious sites. Sir Martin Doughty, concluded, “The evidence provided by today’s Survey will be of ongoing value in enabling us to respond to the many challenges that our natural environment is facing. To secure the future of our wildlife we need to think big and manage the environmental health of entire landscapes rather than simply focusing on isolated pockets of biodiversity concern."
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