Stag beetles to be used as the barometers of London

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The Independent Online

The stag beetle has been put on a list of 100 animals and plants in the capital that will need special help and protection to survive the next 1,000 years.

The stag beetle has been put on a list of 100 animals and plants in the capital that will need special help and protection to survive the next 1,000 years.

When the London Biodiversity Partnership released the list of 100 species, it said that they signify the health and wealth of wildlife in the region. The list includes the hedgehog, skylark, water vole, black redstart, pipistrelle bat, large garden bumblebee, house martin, common frog, small blue butterfly, hornet robberfly, kestrel and grass snake.

More than 150 countries pledged at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to produce national action plans and the UK government's 1994 biodiversity action plan called for the list of species in the capital to be drawn up.

The 100 species selected for special protection was unveiled at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust's new Wetland Centre by the Thames at Barnes. Europe's biggest artificial urban wetland habitat, it covers 105 acres and incorporates a mosaic of lakes, reedbeds and grazing marsh just four miles from the heart of the city. It is due to open to the public in May. Modern technology will enable visitors to learn more about wetland habitats.

"Despite huge urban development, London is one of the best cities in the world for wildlife," said Lesley Hilton, chairman of the London Ecology Committee. "However, many species are declining. The London biodiversity action plan will help to manage and protect wildlife so future generations can continue to enjoy nature in the city."

As well as familiar species such as the song thrush, house sparrow and bluebell, London is home to strange and little- known species. These include the German hairy snail, which often grazes on rubbish along the Thames, and London rocket, a plant that was common around the time of the Great Fire and can still be found near the Tower of London.

James Farrell, the partnership's project officer, said: "London's amazing wildlife is an essential part of the city's fabric. The London biodiversity partnership believes there are exciting opportunities to integrate the conservation of London's wildlife with the workings of the city.

"The partnership hopes that its work can provide the foundation for the Mayor of London's biodiversity action plan, a statutory commitment under the Greater London Authority Act."

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