Hedgehogs now a rare garden sight as British populations continue to decline

GR: Worth noting that even in developed countries with slowing population growth, wildlife decline continues. In Britain, many people do small things to make their gardens more wildlife friendly. However, habitat loss and farming continue to cut carrying capacity for most wildlife species. Hedgehog and other species’ declines are accelerating, suggesting that many wildlife populations are no longer self-sustaining and are falling toward extinction. The Guardian story below includes ideas and links for steps to take to support wildlife. Unfortunately, it does not mention the big step, human population control. Without drastic efforts to cut our needs and begin returning the land and seas to their natural state, most of Earth’s wildlife species will disappear (more on human population impact).

Britain’s hedgehog population has dropped from an estimated 30 million in the 1950s to fewer than one million today. Photograph: Rebecca Cole/Alamy

“The plight of the hedgehog in Britain appears to be worsening, with a new survey revealing a further decline in garden sightings.

“The spiky creature was once a common sight, with the population estimated at 30 million in the 1950s. But that has plummeted to fewer than one million today, with a third of this loss thought to have taken place in the past decade.

“The latest survey, conducted with more than 2,600 people by BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, found that 51% of people did not see a hedgehog at all in 2016, up from 48% in 2015. Just 12% saw a hedgehog regularly.

“The poll’s result is in line with an in-depth analysis in 2015 by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species which found urban populations of hedgehogs had fallen by up to a third since 2000 and rural populations had declined by at least a half. Results from a citizen science survey run by the RSPB in June 2016 also revealed a falling number of sightings.

“The decline is not entirely understood but the main factors are thought to be the loss of their habitat in Britain’s towns and countryside – where farming has intensified – as well as road deaths. The fragmentation of habitat is also a problem as hedgehogs roam up to a mile every night to look for food and mates. A possible rise in badger numbers, which can eat hedgehogs, has also been suggested as a possible cause.” –Damian Carrington (More: Hedgehogs now a rare garden sight as British populations continue to decline | Environment | The Guardian.)

We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years

GR:  Deforestation is a major cause of climate change and of biodiversity decline, extinction of amphibians, arthropods, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Economists and agritechnologists talk of reversing it now, but even in the U. S., forest harvest continues. In poorer countries, the immediate needs for cash and land for crops is not going to end with the advent of more productive crops and efficient farming methods. Such symptom treatments will not end deforestation. It will not stop until we reverse human population growth. Of course, reducing need isn’t the only problem, we might also have to control our greed, a much more difficult task.

Likouala-aux-Herbes river near in Congo-Brazzaville. The Congo Basin is the world’s second largest tropical forest. Photograph: Hope Productions/Yann Arthus Bertrand / Getty Images

“If you want to see the world’s climate changing, fly over a tropical country. Thirty years ago, a wide belt of rainforest circled the earth, covering much of Latin America, south-east Asia and Africa. Today, it is being rapidly replaced by great swathes of palm oil trees and rubber plantations, land cleared for cattle grazing, soya farming, expanding cities, dams and logging.

Rainforests are home to more than half of the world’s animals. Photograph: Getty Images

“People have been deforesting the tropics for thousands of years for timber and farming, but now, nothing less than the physical transformation of the Earth is taking place. Every year about 18m hectares of forest – an area the size of England and Wales – is felled. In just 40 years, possibly 1bn hectares, the equivalent of Europe, has gone. Half the world’s rainforests have been razed in a century, and the latest satellite analysis shows that in the last 15 years new hotspots have emerged from Cambodia to Liberia. At current rates, they will vanish altogether in 100 years.

About 12% of all man-made climate emissions now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas

A logging mill in the Amazon Basin, Peru. Photograph: Jason Edwards/Getty Images/National Geographic Magazines

“As fast as the trees go, the chance of slowing or reversing climate change becomes slimmer. Tropical deforestation causes carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, to linger in the atmosphere and trap solar radiation. This raises temperatures and leads to climate change: deforestation in Latin America, Asia and Africa can affect rainfall and weather everywhere from the US Midwest, to Europe and China.

“The consensus of the world’s atmospheric scientists is that about 12% of all man-made climate emissions – nearly as much as the world’s 1.2bn cars and lorries – now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas. Conserving forests is critical; the carbon locked up in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 150m hectares of forests are nearly three times the world’s global annual emissions.” –John Vidal (Continue reading:  We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years | John Vidal | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian.)

Bird species vanish from UK due to climate change and habitat loss

GR:  Human population growth, conversion of land to farms and cities, and rising temperatures are driving most species toward extinction. Naturalists are observing sinking populations around the world. As more populations reach zero, extinctions accelerate and will be roaring along by century end. They will not slow until only the most adaptable (weed) species remain. The progress of wildlife loss will eventually begin to cause human population decline. Whether or not our species escapes extinction in the centuries ahead, depends on rapid reversal of population growth and elimination of fossil fuel use. Such turns of events seem unlikely as the enormous wealth of the fossil-fuel companies and the owners of our industry and distribution systems have enthralled our leaders. So call or write your congressmen today. Let them know you will support them if they turn away from wealth and accept their responsibility to lead.

A family of willow warblers at a summer nest site in Scotland. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“Climate change has already led to the vanishing of some bird species in parts of England, where intensively farmed land gives them no room to adapt to warming temperatures. The revelation, in a new scientific study, contradicts previous suggestions that birds are tracking global warming by shifting their ranges.

Meadow pipit have disappeared from sites in the south of England. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“The research found that birds that prefer cooler climes, such as meadow pipits, willow tits and willow warblers, have disappeared from sites in south-east England and East Anglia, where intensive crop growing is common.

Meadow pipits, willow tits and willow warblers have disappeared from sites in East Anglia due to crop farming. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“Birds are facing a double-edged sword from climate change and declines in habitat quality,” said Tom Oliver, at the University of Reading, who led the new study. “In England, birds really look like they are struggling to cope with climate change. They are already being hit with long-term reductions in habitat quality and, for the cold-associated birds, those losses are being further exacerbated by climate change.” (Continue reading: Bird species vanish from UK due to climate change and habitat loss | Environment | The Guardian)