More effective protected areas needed to halt biodiversity loss

A new study, led by researchers from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) as shown that protected natural areas of the UK are struggling to halt declines in insects and spiders that have occurred over the past 30 years.

This work is based on nearly one million records for more than 1,230 invertebrate species between 1990 and 2018, collected by the following UK recording schemes:

- Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (BWARS)

- Hoverfly Recording Scheme

- UK Ladybird Survey

- Spider Recording Scheme

Protected areas such as Nature reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Special Areas of Conservation and other forms of protected habitat, have long been regarded as a key tool in conservation efforts to preserve and restore natural habitats. 

The authors found that protected areas were richer in species than unprotected areas of the country, but that both areas have suffered similar rates of decline in native insects and spiders over the past 30 years. They suggest that protected ares are just as susceptible to the wider declines in biodiversity occurring across the country, and that pollinators, such as bees and hoverflies, have suffered particularly severe declines.

The paper, ‘Protected areas support more species than unprotected areas in Great Britain, but lose them equally rapidly’ is published in Biological Conservation, DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109884

You can read the full article on the UKCEH website here.