FIGHTING FOR LIFE IN OUR FIELDS; Mike'sbattle to Save Endangered Species SIXTEEN Years Ago the Government Drew Up a Planto Boost Biodiversity. but since Then 19 Species Have Become Extinct. A Warwickshire Conservationist Tells Environment Reporter MARY GRIFFIN Where We're Going Wrong and Shares a Rare Success Story
Byline: MARY GRIFFIN
humans. When it's published later year the report is expected to that the economic benefits of protecting nature compared with the costs are more than 10:1.
mes pportunities that just aren't taken. We need more joined-up thinking."
And Mike reckons if biod iversity was pushed higher up the agenda the damage caused by human impact could be dramatically reduced THIS is the International Year of Biodiversity but how much do we really care about plant and animal life when recent reports show our species are under severe strain? Since the UK's first Biodiversity Action Plan was drawn up in 1994 nearly 20 species are believed to have been lost to extinction and nearly 90 more are on a downward spiral of decline.
In Warwickshire, one conservationist claims he's fighting so hard to save certain species from extinction that he can't concentrate on general improvements to the landscape that could boost biodiversity all round.
Mike Slater, has been the conservation officer for the Warwickshire branch of Butterfly Conservation for more than 20 years.
During that time, the Small Blue - Britain's smallest butterfly - has suffered a staggering 97 per cent decline.
Already extinct in Shropshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire, it is on the verge of extinction in the West Midlands.
Mike said: "It's our fastest declining butterfly. "As a lot of the cement quarries were cleared around Southam they became covered with invading scrub. The rare grassland disappeared along with wildlife like the Greater Butterfly Orchids."
Over the last four years conservationists and volunteers set about recreating these grasslands and planting new habitat areas with Kidney Vetch - the only caterpillar food plant of the Small Blue.
This week they've struck gold, with a sighting of a newly-emerged Small Blue next to the Southam bypass and they've subsequently found 14 butterfly eggs, which experts say is a sure sign that a colony has established itself there.
But Mike claims this is an all-too-rare success story. He said: "It's often man that has caused the decline of many creatures, including butterflies, and I think we have a moral duty to make good the problems we've caused.
"There has been such a decline in biodiversity over recent year's it's frightening.
"We do a lot of monitoring, breaking areas into sections so we can relate declines and increases in species to changes in habitat."
Local teams feed their research back to national agencies such as Defra or Natural England to chart changes and uncover the causes.
But the effects of changing weather patterns (last week's Defra report claim rived in the UK on ave days earlier over the las than between 1891 and new building or change farming practices can PUTTING A PRICE ON hard to predict.
Mike said: "With the foo and mouth crisis animal couldn't be moved. In some cases cattle were retained on grassland, they grazed too much and butterflies went extinct. "In other areas, they weren't put on grassland, i wasn't grazed and butte flies went extinct. It's a fi balancing act.
"Climate change is bri massive swings in weath terns and creatures, like can't adapt quickly. NATURE AS LORD STERN put a climate change, economist Sukhdev is doing the same His study, The Economics of and Biodiversity, will show average one-third of habitats the globe have been humans. When it's published this year the report is say that the economic of protecting nature compared with the are more than 10:1.
"Look at the flooding in Boscastle.
just aren't taken. joined-up thinking."
We need flower-rich flood meadows for events like that, but instead people say, "We need to flood something, let's flood the local sports field."
And Mike reckons was pushed higher the damage caused could be - the Southam bypass project is a prime example. …