Skylark 'may be extinct within 10 years'

SKYLARKS, SONG thrushes and water voles, some of the most potent symbols of the countryside, will all vanish from Britain in the next few years, the World Wide Fund for Nature claims in a report today.

So rapid has been their recent decline that their extinction can now be foreseen, the WWF says, and it is unavoidable unless drastic steps are taken to save them.

In Doomsday for Wildlife, the fund predicts a swath of extinctions across the United Kingdom. It takes the rates of decline of seven familiar British wildlife species and projects them forward - in most cases they hit zero alarmingly soon.

Skylarks, which have been catastrophically affected by changes in farming practice, will disappear in 2009 if nothing is done to reverse their deterioration, the WWF says.

Song thrushes, which 25 years ago were one of our most common birds and are now increasingly rare, will go even earlier, by 2006. And the water vole - loved as Ratty in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in The Willows, but a species now much reduced by American mink which have escaped from fur farms - will disappear earlier still, by 2003.

Other species are also on the "disappearing list". The high brown fritillary butterfly will go in five years' time, while the pipistrelle bat will be extinct by 2007, the WWF says.

The grey partridge will be gone by 2011 while another butterfly, the marsh fritillary, is on course for extinction by 2020.

The causes of many of the declines are changes in agricultural techniques, such as the move to winter crops and greater pesticide use, and the change from haymaking to silage. With silage, the grass is cut in June while species are still nesting, rather than in August, when they are finished.

The WWF says that it has used the Government's figures to plot the rates of decline, and that the moves towards extinction are expected to accelerate over the next 20 years, with the effects of climate change, growing development pressures and the continued threat of the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy.

The only way of halting the declines, it says, is to introduce as a matter of urgency added protection for the disappearing habitats that the species depend upon.

"The dramatic decline and extinction of our native species is a sad reflection of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act and its inability to protect our natural heritage," said Carol Hatton, the planning officer for the WWF-UK. "We must have stronger legal protection before it's too late."

The WWF said it was disappointed that a new wildlife Bill was not introduced this year and is calling for wildlife legislation to be included in the 1999 Queen's Speech.

However, this will come too late for some species. The WWF is announcing today that a British bee, the short-haired bumble bee, is now extinct.

The last reported sighting was near Dungeness in Kent in the early Eighties and after two years of intensive survey work, no trace of the insect was found.

The total number of wildlife species to have become extinct in Britain this century is now 154, the WWF says.

These include flowers such as the alpine butterwort (1900) and summer lady's tresses (1954); insects such as the dainty damselfly (1953) and the Essex emerald moth (1991); and many other species, including mammals (the mouse-eared bat, 1990) birds (the Kentish plover, 1935) and fish (the burbot, some time in the Seventies).

Suggested Topics
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Sport
sport
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £550 - £650

£550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...

Data Insight Manager - Marketing

£32000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based o...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape