UK wetlands get a health check24/10/2019
22 Oct 2019
It has been six years since the last UK wetlands health check when just a third of the featured waterbirds were flagged with long-term alerts, highlighting issues that were in need of investigation. Fast-forward six years and almost half of featured waterbirds have been flagged with long-term alerts. Birds such as Scaup, Goldeneye and Purple Sandpiper have all seen population declines and are becoming increasingly reliant on the Special Protection Areas (SPA’s) that are designed to protect them. The Wetland Bird Survey Alerts, published today, assesses change for 471 site-species populations on 82 SPA’s, and for the first time a further 1,266 assessments were carried out for 220 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Areas of Special Scientific Interest. Whilst overall winter numbers in the UK are half what they used to be, numbers at protected sites have declined at a comparatively slower rate, so that protected sites now hold up to 40% of the British wintering Pochard population, compared to just 15% in the 1970s and 1980s. Almost no Pochard now occur in Northern Ireland outside the protected areas.