Agriculture accounts for over 70% of land use in the UK. But, the environmental damage we have suffered while inside the current EU Common Agricultural Policy has been significant.
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change this, clean up the air that we breathe and ensure better public access to enjoy our iconic countryside, while at the same time ensuring we have a prosperous and thriving farming sector.
Here are seven of our much loved countryside visitors that we no longer see so often.
‘Ratty’ from the Wind in the Willows faces threats from agricultural intensification and habitat loss due to unsympathetic waterway management, as well as urbanisation and predation by mink.
Native hedgehog numbers have plummeted by at least half in the UK. Our beloved hedgehogs have declined massively in farmland, so sensitively managed wildlife-friendly gardens have now become increasingly important.
Bogs, mires and fens have been drained, overgrazed and burned leading to declines in the presence of large marsh grasshoppers.
A reduction in the appropriate grazing of bracken-dominated habitats has contributed to the decline of the UK’s most threatened butterfly, the high brown fritillary.
Climate change is also thought to be responsible for the range contraction of the mountain ringlet butterfly: its range has shifted uphill by 150m in response to warmer temperatures.
The UK’s favourite farmland bird has suffered a 75% drop in its population since the 1930s because modern agricultural practices have wiped out huge numbers of their prey – mice and voles.
The UK population of heather moorland-loving hen harriers is extremely low - and in some areas close to extinction - due to illegal persecution associated with grouse moor management.
Common frog, natterjack and common toad
Common frog, common toad and natterjack toad populations have been reported as being in decline since the 1970s. The reasons for the decline in the common toad are similar to those affecting hedgehogs including habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution and climate change. Natterjack toads are now found almost exclusively in coastal dunes.
Help bring back wildlife we love
If you are as sad as we are about this tragic decline in our iconic English species, please stand up for nature and tell DEFRA you support this consultation.