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New study shows one in four UK mammal species now faces threat of extinction

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An image of a beaver in the wild

There was coverage in today’s Telegraph, Times, Guardian, Express, Mirror, Mail, Yorkshire Post, BBC online, BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, and Farming Today of the Mammal Society’s first official Red List for British Mammals, which highlights that one quarter of Britain’s mammals are now at risk of extinction.

The study found that numbers are declining for a variety of reasons including extensive historical persecution, habitat degradation, and the introduction of predators. The report also highlights real successes – often when government, conservation organisations and land managers work in partnership – on which we will continue to build.

The review was jointly commissioned by Natural England, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Joint National Conservation Committee. The new Red List uses the same approaches used to classify threats to species such as elephants and tigers.

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:

“This first official Red List for mammals paints a worrying and stark picture of the state of some of our most treasured species.

“This is a wake-up call but it is not too late to act. Natural England is working with our partners to recover our threatened and well-loved mammals, including licensing the reintroduction of beavers into England, and supporting the recovery of dormice and the grey long-eared bat, but there is a lot more to do.

“This Red List provides vital information to help target conservation efforts to best effect, and will help inform our hugely ambitious plans to create vital inter-linked habitats, restore landscapes, and bring back some of threatened species from the brink.”

Natural England’s ‘Back from the Brink’ partnership programme is working to save 20 species from extinction and helped put more than 100 more species on the road to recovery.

A Defra spokesperson said:

“Our 25 Year Environment Plan marked a step-change in ambition for wildlife and the natural environment and we recently launched a consultation to accelerate tree planting and have invested £40 million into a Green Recovery Challenge Fund  to aid conservation organisations.

“Our landmark Environment Bill outlines ambitious measures to address the biggest environment priorities of our age, including restoring and enhancing nature for generations to come.”

The government is developing a new Environmental Land Management scheme which will help to deliver the wildlife goals in our 25 Year Environment Plan. This scheme will reward farmers and land managers for delivering environmental measures, including the protection of habitats.

We have also committed to legislating for a new framework for Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) in the Environment Bill as well as mandating for ‘net gain’ which will ensure that the new houses we build are delivered in a way which protects and enhances nature.

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