Victims have ranged from the great auk and the lynx to the humble blue stag beetle and Davall's sedge. More to the point, 480 of the 492 species made extinct since Roman times have disappeared in the past two centuries. Rates of eradication are rising, a trend that bodes badly for the future of the countryside, a report states.
Produced by Natural England, the government agency responsible for the countryside, "Lost Life: England's Lost and Threatened Species" focuses only on wildlife on English soil, although it has broad lessons for all of Britain. We live on "a fortress built by Nature for herself", Shakespeare claimed. If so, she is now paying a heavy price for its construction, as the study makes clear.
According to the report, a total of 24% of butterfly species and 22% of amphibians have been wiped out in England, along with individual types of wildlife such as Mitten's beardless moss; York groundsel, a weed only discovered in the 1970s; and Ivell's sea anemone, which was last seen in a lagoon near Chichester. Add to this the wolf, the wildcat and other large mammals and the level of devastation of our wildlife becomes chillingly apparent.
…The report highlights a number of culprits, though it is emphatic about the worst offender: habitat loss. The great inroads made into the English countryside by farmers and builders has had a devastating effect on our wildlife, destroying food sources, shelter and homes for hundreds of species.
"Urban spread is one cause of habitat loss, of course, but farming has had the greatest impact by far," added Dr Tew. "We have ploughed over the landscape, ripped up woods and drained our wetlands – and rare mosses, damselflies and corncrakes have disappeared as a result." Intriguingly, analysis shows extinctions occurred in two main waves, both based on farming revolutions…..
Cullaloe Wildlife Reserve, formerly a reservoir, just north of Aberdour,