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UN report ‘a call to arms’ on biodiversity

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AN INTERNATIONAL report warning of dire threats to ecosystems should be treated as a ‘call to arms’, according to Biodiversity Education Officer Julia Henney.

Biodiversity Education Officer Julia Henney. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 24609492)

The United Nations report published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is a damning indictment of man’s detrimental impact on biodiversity, stating that 1,000,000 species of plant and animal face imminent extinction.

‘Even just off the analysis surrounding the report we can see it is a stark wake-up call.

‘We are so frequently bombarded with assessments and news reports that we can often shelve them as just another one, but I really hope this does not happen to this report.

‘This cannot be ignored. It is a call to arms for every organisation, every business, every person,’ said Ms Henney.

Guernsey is not sheltered from these changes and as an island can be more vulnerable to variations in the environment.

Anecdotal evidence of the decline in biodiversity is readily available, however, there is very little long-term monitoring currently established.

‘What we hear reported most regularly is about the windscreen during driving.

‘In times gone by it would have required wiping due to insects but throughout Guernsey now this is non existent. In terms of statistical data we have recorded the wading birds at Richmond for about 18 years and again we have seen a steep decline in numbers.’

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Conservationist, Vic Froome, said: ‘Birds are in serious decline to the point of extinction in many species - we have already seen this in the Skylarks and Turnstones but nearly so in Swifts and Swallows. If you talk to fishermen edible crab numbers are dropping and fish stocks, in general, are low. I’ve just been touring in the UK and not once have I had to wipe down my windscreen or bonnet.’

Ms Henney added: ‘We have now witnessed the local extinction of at least 80 species and the number is always growing.’

The first of a three phase habitat survey is nearing publication, it looks to provide statistical evidence to support what is known anecdotally.

‘We have amazing charities doing so much but clearly that is not enough. This has to become the responsibility of the people of Guernsey - every tree that is cut down please think, every decision made in the garden all makes a small change in the wider natural environment,’ said Ms Henney.

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Habitat restoration projects, as found at Icart Point, are attempting to re-introduce native habitats to the island in an effort to encourage biodiversification.

The problem which faces these projects is funding in order to establish them in the first place.

Despite this provision to establish more restoration projects is currently being devised.

‘We need more wide scale habitat restoration, the projects already in existence are fantastic but we need more. The first call is government but we need community projects too, there are many community funded nature reserves in the UK. We just need businesses and the community to throw their weight behind it.’

Mr Froome added: ‘People need to be aware and have responsibility. It is no use just having a biodiversity strategy - if you don’t look after the world you live in you don’t deserve to live in it.’

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