A recent report suggested that a fifth of Britain’s mammal species are at risk of extinction. The wildlife that surrounded so many of us in years gone by is becoming increasingly rare—hedgehogs, red squirrels and several species of bat are in dramatic decline. Faced with statistics such as these it is easy to lose hope. But hope is still to be found.
The reasons for the decline in mammals are numerous. The demand for housebuilding increases pressure on local authorities to build across green corridors. People live ever closer to wildlife and, when it comes to conflict, the people generally come off better. Wildlife is feeling the effects of climate change, too, with food harder to find and hibernation patterns disrupted.
But particular species in certain areas are bouncing back. Improvements in river water quality alongside reintroduction programmes have led to the recovery of otter populations. Pine marten and polecat numbers have rebounded. Beavers have been successfully reintroduced in the south-west and in Scotland and Wild boar are beginning to recover in woodlands pockets around the UK, too.
These successes, however, take time, effort and funding. Legislation is needed to protect more species and those of us fortunate enough to own gardens can play our part in making them more accessible to wildlife. A Rocha UK’s Target Ten initiative aims to restore local populations of ten declining species, including hedgehogs, by working to create effective habitats on our reserves and land managed by our partners in action.
PRAY AND ACT
As Christians, we can also pray for the state of the natural world. God hears our prayers (even if his answer is sometimes “go on then—do something!”). Together, we can be part of bringing restoration to nature. It’s now incumbent on us to act before it’s too late.