Warwickshire doing well at protecting nature sites and beauty spots
Warwickshire has been revealed to be doing well at protecting nature sites and beauty spots according to new analysis.
From the White Cliffs of Dover to the Scottish Highlands, the UK has an abundance of protected beauty spots - but many of them are under threat, new analysis shows.
Thousands of the country’s Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are in a poor state, with half of official inspections finding unsatisfactory conditions.
And many have not been assessed for years, leading environmental campaigners to fear that the situation could be even worse.
Wildlife charities have branded the overall findings “shocking”, while governments have said they are taking action to restore sites.
SSSIs are protected areas for nature conservation and can cover anything from breeding grounds for rare species to peatland.
Counties across the UK have been ranked from one to 51 in terms of whether the sites are in a 'favourable' condition with one being the worst.
Warwickshire has 114 SSSI locations and in the ranking the county was ranked as 43 out of 51. This means that most of the sites in the county are classed as 'favourable'.
Sites included Guy's Cliffe, Harbury Quarries, Draycote Meadow and Ryton Wood.
Half of the most recent inspections (49.9%) of protected land or natural features found poor conditions or the destruction of habitats, analysis by the JPIMedia Data Unit found.
~ A colony of puffins on the Shetland Islands’ Sumburgh Head in an unsatisfactory and declining state, with the situation blamed on climate change
~ Concern over the status of breeding peregrine falcons at Fair Head and Murlough Bay in Northern Ireland
~ All protected sections of Cornwall's famous Bodmin Moor assessed as being in an unfavourable condition
Paul de Zylva, of Friends of the Earth, said it was “shocking that our top wildlife sites are in such poor condition”.
He said: “If we can’t even protect the jewels in the crown, it’s little wonder that UK nature is in such poor shape.
“The new government must make the protection and restoration of our natural environment a top priority.”
Kate Jennings, head of site conservation policy at the RSPB, added: “The current state of SSSIs across the four countries of the UK is shocking. Many have not been assessed for years so the actual picture may in fact be worse.
“If our governments are serious about tackling the climate and nature emergencies we need a huge step change in action, and it needs to happen now.”
Nikki Williams, The Wildlife Trust’s director of campaigns and policy, said bodies such as Natural England, which monitor the condition of sites, had been starved of funding.
She called for them to get a substantial cash injection “to enable them to carry out their functions effectively and to ensure our protected sites are restored and enhanced”.
Across the UK
In England, SSSIs are inspected in smaller sections called units. More than half of these units (53 per cent) are in an unfavourable condition, inspection data shows.
The picture is worst in the East Midlands and the North East, where two-thirds of inspected areas are rated unfavourable.
Guidelines state SSSI features in England should be assessed at least every six years, but our analysis found more than half (12,394) of sites have not been assessed since 2011.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said while most of England’s SSSIs were either in a favourable condition or were recovering, they recognised that “more needs to be done to improve these vital sites”.
“That’s why we are focusing on restoring those sites that are still in a recovering condition so we can enhance these important areas,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “England’s Sites of Special Scientific Interest protect our most rare and threatened wildlife and represent the best in nature this country has to offer.
"While 94 per cent of these are currently in a favourable or recovering condition, we know more needs to be done to improve these vital sites.
"That’s why we are focusing on restoring those sites that are still in a recovering condition so we can enhance these important areas.”