One of the rarest bats in the UK may soon be extinct because of the “dramatic decline” in areas where whey can hunt for food, experts have warned.
Grey long-eared bats are under threat because of a reduction in lowland meadows and marshlands – the mammal’s main foraging habitats.
The Bat Conservation Trust warned there are only 1,000 of the rare bats left in the UK and their numbers are declining.
“The long-term survival of the grey long-eared bat UK population is closely linked to the conservation of these lowland meadows and marshland habitats," explained Dr Orly Razgour.
Grey long-eared bats are one of Britain's rarest mammals that live in the south coast of England, including the Isle of Wight, with a small number found in the Channel Islands. Experts have also found one of the mammals in South Wales.
They are traditionally a cave-dwelling species but have become dependent on buildings such as lofts or barns for roost sites.
Designer Linda Barker is backing an RSPB campaign calling for the creation of a "million homes for nature" in gardens and open spaces amid concerns about struggling UK wildlife.
She spoke to Daybreak Chief Correspondent Richard Gaisford:
Visit the RSPB website for more information.
– Mike Clarke, chief executive of the RSPB
Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines.
Gardens provide a valuable lifeline for species like starlings, toads, hedgehogs and butterflies, which are struggling to find homes in the wider countryside.
Our aim is to provide one million homes for nature across the UK, because if there's no home for nature, then there's no nature - it really is that serious.
- The state of the UK’s butterflies (2011) concluded that 72% of species had decreased over the previous ten years, including common “garden” butterflies that had declined by 24%.
- The state of the UK’s birds (2012) reported that the UK has lost in the region of 44 million breeding birds since the late 1960s.
- In 2012, Our Vanishing Flora looked at the extinction of plants from counties across the UK in the 20th century, and found widespread losses.
- In 16 counties, one plant species went extinct every other year.
- The state of Britain’s mammals (2011) highlighted the decline of hedgehogs, the ongoing loss of red squirrels and the recovery of otters.
Conservationists are calling for the creation of a "million homes for nature" in gardens and open spaces to in a move to protect UK's struggling wildlife.
The call comes following a report by a coalition of wildlife organisations which found that 60% of species that had been studied had suffered declines in the past few decades.
Garden favourites from starlings to hedgehogs as well as some species of butterfly and ladybird were among those creatures in trouble.
They are all in danger of further declines without work to provide them with better habitats, according to the RSPB, one of the wildlife groups behind the State of Nature report.
The RSPB is encouraging people to take steps such as putting up nest boxes, planting wildflowers or digging ponds in their gardens to help wildlife. The charity hopes the public will create a million new homes for nature under the scheme.
Read more: Dramatic decline in wildlife