Tree, Isabella - Wilding - The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Isabella Tree – Wilding
The Second World War utterly transformed …. everywhere in Britain. On Knepp’s horizon, for example, tides of wheat replaced the original chalk grasslands of the South Downs – traditional grazing lands since the Bronze Age, meadows of cowslips and orchid, considered out of bounds even during the First World War……
Thousands of acres were ditched and drained. Between 1946 and 1963, hedgerows were ripped out at the rate of 3000 miles per year. By 1972, according to a report by the Countryside Commission, the rate of destruction had increased to 10,000 miles a year. Between the beginning of the war and the 1990s we lost 75,000 miles of hedgerows.
This is a story of unremitting unification and simplification, reducing the landscape to a large scale patchwork of ryegrass, oilseed rape and cereals, with remnant hedgerows the only remaining refuge for many species of wildflowers, insects and songbirds ……………
- 90% of wetland has disappeared in England alone since the Industrial Revolution.
- 80% of Britain’s lowland heathland has been lost since 1800; a quarter of the acreage in the last 50 years
- 97% of our wildflower meadows have been lost since the war – 7.5 million acres – mostly ploughed up for arable, fast growing agricultural grass and commercial forestry. In the lowlands, the total remaining is just 26,000 acres. In all the British uplands it is a pitiable 2,223 acres
In recent years, some of our best loved ‘common’ species like hedgehogs, water voles and dormice have become scarce.
The government’s own assessment, published in August 2016, found that 150 of 200 so called priority species are still falling in number across the country and we are in imminent danger of losing 10-15% of our species overall.
It is tempting to assume that such declines are no different to the rest of the world. But they are different. Using the biodiversity intactness index – a new system that measures the condition of a country’s biodiversity – the updated 2016 State of Nature report discovered that the UK has lost significantly more biodiversity over the long term than the world average.
Ranked 29th lowest out of 218 countries, we are among the most nature depleted countries in the world.