The Big Decline
Whilst researching for an upcoming solo exhibition I discovered that the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. I was genuinely shocked. My artwork is about declining natural habitats, loss of species and decreasing biodiversity but I had no idea that it is as bad as it is. I live surrounded by farmland but of course that is not natural – I walk in ancient woods and meadows but they are currently under threat from a big housing development – so short sighted as once natural habitat has been built on it is gone forever.
The World Wildlife Fund states that one in seven native species in the UK face extinction and that more than 40% are in decline. 30% of UK birds are threatened with extinction with 70 species now on the red list of Birds of Conservation Concern – you may have read in the national press recently about the addition of the greenfinch to this list but there are other birds on the list that you may not be aware of such as such as sparrows and starlings.
A report by the Natural History Museum in 2020 states that UK has only half of it’s natural biodiversity left. It is in the bottom 10% of all countries globally.
Farmland covers 70% of the UK and as it has intensified there has been a decrease in habitat for wildlife. Larger fields mean less hedgerows and trees for example. And then there’s the pesticides and herbicides that are used on crops that are dangerous to small mammals and pollinators – and ourselves.
Fly tipping is also a big problem –from leaking toxic fuel from dumped motorbikes to large items such as trolleys and baths that trap silt and smother natural gravels on the beds of rivers that support wildlife.
Also in the press recently there has been a lot about the decline of hedgehogs – this is linked to loss of hedgerows too.
I hope this has given you some insight into the enormity of the situation and why I feel compelled to try and bring it to people attention through my art.
If you want to read more then here is a list of links to sources of the above information and more. Sobering but essential reading.