State of Nature 2019: UK's wildlife loss continues unabated

Kittiwakes and other seabirds have struggled because of the lack of sandeels in our oceans

Butterflies fluttering, a kittiwake diving into ice-blue waves and the sweet song of skylarks first thing in the morning. These sights and sounds are becoming even rarer with 41 per cent of species in decline since 1970. We need to act now to stop this loss, creating more homes for wildlife and calling on governments to introduce stronger environmental protections.

The State of Nature report 2019, which shows 15 per cent of wildlife species are under threat from extinction, paints a bleak picture but we believe there's still hope of reversing these devastating losses. 

We're doing everything we can to protect wildlife by addressing some of the biggest challenges facing the natural world. These include climate change, intensive farming, pollution, an increase in non-native invasive predators and the destruction of woodlands and wetlands.

By 2025 we'll have created 25,000 hectares of wildlife habitats, which will help a variety of wildlife, including rare butterflies at Heddon valley in Devon and birds such as the golden plover in Dark Peak in the Peak District. We also want at least half of the farmland in our care to be nature-friendly so that plants and animals can thrive. 

State of Nature report 2019: loss of nature since 1970

  • 15 per cent of species under threat of extinction and 2 per cent of species have already gone for good
  • Average abundance of wildlife has fallen by 13 per cent with the steepest losses in the last ten years 
  • 41 per cent of UK species studied have fallen and 133 species have already been lost from our shores 
  • Butterflies and moths, down 17 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. Numbers of high brown fritillary and grayling butterflies, have fallen by more than three quarters 
  • The average amount of mammals has fallen by 26 per cent and the wild cat and greater mouse-eared bat are almost extinct

Rosie Hails, Nature and Science Director at the National Trust said:  'We are now at a crossroads when we need to pull together with actions rather than words to stop and reverse the decline of those species at risk as well as protecting and creating new habitats in which they can thrive.

'We need a strong new set of environmental laws to hold our governments and others to account and to set long-term and ambitious targets.  Only a robust approach to environmental protections and law making can deliver this for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.'

Wildlife returns to Marsden Moor a year after after devastating fire

The precious peatland habitats at Marsden Moor in West Yorkshire are showing some positive signs of recovery, according to our rangers. Short-eared owls, curlews, skylarks and mountain hares have been spotted in the area a year after the blaze, which broke out on 21 April 2019. This follows a huge conservation effort carried out by our rangers and volunteers, as well as an appeal that received donations totalling £100,000 from National Trust supporters.

Work has included planting tens of thousands of individual sphagnum moss plugs and building leaky dams. These measures help to ‘rewet’ the moor by holding water while allowing carbon to be absorbed by the peat soils, which are a vital defence against climate change.

But a recent spell of dry weather coupled with a lack of resources in a time of national crisis means there’s a risk of further fires. We’re urging the public to act responsibly during this time.

Grizzled Skipper Butterfly

Read the full State of Nature report 

The State of Nature report 2019 describes how human impacts are affecting huge changes in wildlife in the UK. The loss of nature affects us all, but the greatest impacts will be upon the lives of young people today, and future generations.

Working with farmers who champion nature

What we're doing about climate change

Protecting endangered wildlife

" I have never seen a hedgehog, although my parents used to see them all the time in the area. Many others my age have had the same experience. I’m worried that we’re close to losing them from our countryside forever."
- James Miller, 17, young conservationist
How you can stand up for nature

Whether you become a National Trust member, enjoy a coffee in our cafés, donate to one of our appeals, or volunteer, you'll be helping us care for precious landscapes and the wildlife that depend on them.  You can also get involved with your local conservation groups.


Everyone needs nature, now more than ever. Donate today and you could help people and nature to thrive at the places we care for.